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

That letter I’ve been waiting for

In November (2012) I applied to be a language assistant in Germany for my year abroad. And today is the day that I finally got the letter I was waiting for!!* I knew the region I was going to already (Nordrhein – Westfalen (or North Rhine Westphalia in English)). I was hoping to go somewhere near Köln (Cologne) or Bonn, but that was not to be! I am instead off to the most northern town in Nordrhein Westfalen, Radhen (which is actually nowhere near Cologne and Bonn at all.)

A bit disappointed because it seems like it is a bit in the middle of nowhere… It’s at least an hour to the nearest big place and it looks like it’s a town in the countryside. But every cloud has a silver lining – I will probably learn more German there because the smaller the place, the less likely they are to speak English (apparently). 

Also, my research this afternoon seems to conclude that there is nowhere to go rock climbing nearby, which is disappointing (especially as there are so many rock climbing centres in that region, it just turns out most of them are in the centre/south and I am in the very north!) 

I am hoping that there will be good transport links and that it won’t be too expensive to travel, so then I can still go to see these bigger cities – Cologne, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Hanover, Bremen… And even Northern cities like Hamburg and the far-away Berlin are on my list of places to go, which will be a bit easier to get to as I’m further north than I expected.

I don’t think I would’ve been happy wherever I was put though. Because this makes it real. There’s a real school in a real town where I’m really going to go and live for nearly a year. And it’s scary already. I think this made it feel more definite, and now there’s not really a way out. Before there was always going to be the chance that they email me and say “oh sorry there’s no place for you” and I would’ve had to stay in England and it wouldn’t have been my fault.   But I am going in September. I need to start planning and actually looking forward to it, at the moment I am just scared, I want to cry (who am I kidding? I am crying..)

I think it’s a bit of a shock really, as the wait has been so long, I wasn’t actually expecting the answer to come! 

And today also marked the end of “year abroad preparation week**”, so now with my brain full of information, I’m meant to be ready to go. But I’m not.

There’s still a couple of months but I’m scared. What if I can’t do it? What if I fail? What if I hate it there and become more depressed? No one is going to be there to help me then…

I know I should be excited, I should be grateful for having a place and for having this new information. But the fear is getting in the way of all of that, and the disappointment that I’m so far from where I hoped to be.

I’ll probably cheer up soon 😛

Lots of love,

From a very anxious and worried Ellie xxx

*Ok, so technically I don’t have it yet, but it arrived at home (London) and my mum has told me the details and has now posted it to here (Lancaster).

**which did not last a week (as one might expect) but 3 days!

Self destruct

I seem to have hit the self-destruct button recently. I don’t know why, I don’t know what’s wrong.

It’s like I’m trying to argue, I’m trying to get him to “prove” me right, that I’m not good enough, that I’m unlovable.

I know I am so lucky to have someone who is always there for me and isn’t scared away with my crazy irrational behaviour.

I’m on the train at the moment, will be into London in about 40 minutes. And I don’t really know what I’m feeling right now. I want to see him and at the same time I don’t. I want to tell him to leave me alone and find someone else, and at the same time I want him to hold me and love me.

Such is my fear of being abandoned/left that I am (again) thinking of running away from it. Maybe so I can be in control? Who knows what goes on in this bonkers brain of mine!

I don’t want us to split up, life would be incredibly rubbish without S. But I’m so scared and It’s making me strange. Hopefully it’ll feel better when I see him.

Hope everyone is having a lovely sunny Thursday!

Lots of love,
Ellie xxx

I miss him already

S left today, I waved and watched his train pull away, heading back to London.

I miss him already.

It’s sad but it’s true. That’s the problem with long distance relationships. I don’t see him for ages, and then I see him 24/7 for a few days, and then he’s gone again. There is no normal because it’s all or nothing. Of course I talk to him a lot and I am glad I’m with him but sometimes it’s so hard.

Especially after finding out about the ex on Thursday night. It opened up a whole new can of worms… the self-doubt, not feeling good enough, the shame, the guilt, the whys and what-ifs…

And I cried a lot while he was here. I got scared easily. I always do. It’s pathetic.

And then the spiders in the night. (See my previous post!)

So much anxiety. So much self-doubt. Self consciousness. Fear. Don’t leave me, please don’t leave me.

And now he’s gone again. And I’m scared. I don’t know why, I don’t know how to make this stop. 

We had such a nice few days together. Walks in the park, along the canal. We went climbing together and I managed to do the hardest route I’ve ever done. We went for a lovely meal and on my birthday we went out for drinks with lots of my friends. It was lovely and perfect and I wish it didn’t have to end.

I guess I realised this weekend how much I hate being away from him, how hard it is, how much I care.

And now I’m panicking.

I don’t even know what’s wrong.

I can hear all the criticisms in my mind: you’re pathetic, he only left today and you’re crying. How are you going to survive being in Germany when he’s still in England? You are weak, useless. He is going to leave you when he realises what you’re really like. No one could really love you.

I am going to try using my safe space and grounding techniques to calm me down before bed. Tomorrow I’ll write about this week’s CBT.

I’ll be ok.

Lots of love,

Ellie xxx

I am lucky

I have been feeling low for a long time. Sometimes I feel better for a few hours, even a day or a week, but then I fall back to the depths of sadness and depression.

Recently I have been remembering things, memories which are very scary, memories which have been haunting me when I’m awake as flashbacks, and in my sleep as nightmares.

But sometimes these things help us realise why we are lucky. I am lucky because I am away from him now. I am lucky because I have this blog, and lots of lovely bloggy friends here to support me. I am lucky because I have a boyfriend who makes me feel safe.

Last night I decided I needed to tell S about the nightmares and the memories. I sent him my last blog post, the one about nightmares. I copy and pasted it, he still doesn’t know where my blog is. I know he could find it if he wanted to, but I just have to trust that he respects my privacy and decision not to let anyone from my “real life” read my blog. I couldn’t talk about it, but I felt like he should know. It explains some of my strange behaviour. It explains some of the pain. I was scared that he would judge me, or tell me that I’m a slut. He didn’t. Of course he didn’t. He said

I love you so much. You know that right. I would never do anything like that to you. I love you too much to ever hurt you at all. 

I told him that I feel bad that he has to wait (for sex) and that I feel like I’m not giving him what I’m supposed to. He said

You shouldn’t use that term. Supposed to. You aren’t supposed to do anything. You give me everything I want. A cuddle and a kiss.

It brings me to tears now as I’m typing this. Because he cares, unconditionally and really. He doesn’t want to hurt me and all he wants is for me to be happy. It is strange for me that someone can treat me like this without expecting anything in return. I know my view of relationships is messed up, but I am realising how lucky I am to have S, and how much happier I am with him than I ever was with the ex.

A lot of bad things come from depression, but sometimes good things too. Today I have realised that I am lucky and I have someone who really cares and wants to look after me. Through this depression, I have learned things I didn’t know about myself, I have made this blog and I feel safe writing here, knowing that I have wonderful friends who will support me, celebrate my victories with me, and remind me that things will get better when I feel like all hope is gone.

So I just want to say Thank you, to all of you for being there for me.

Nightmares

**trigger warning – abusive relationship and sexual stuff**

I suppose it was inevitable after the post I wrote last night that I was going to have nightmares. I was scared and on edge. I had memories haunting me.

I spoke to S on the phone before I went to sleep, and it made me feel a bit better. It made me feel safer, and after putting my phone on charge, I snuggled up in my duvet with my heffalump. (Yes I still sleep with a cuddly toy! *embarrassed face*)

For some reason a memory of things with the ex came into my mind last night. We had been arguing, I can’t remember what about. As usual I was apologising. He picked up the bread knife and started cutting his arm with it. I’m scared of blood, maybe this is why I’m even more scared of blood. He scratched him arm over and over with the knife so it was bleeding. He said that’s what I’ve done to him. I was scared.

I can feel myself dissociating as I’m typing this. Each memory seems to link to another. Him threatening to overdose on paracetamol. Me screaming and crying and begging him not to. It was all my fault he said.

I suppose this is what is going to happen. In CBT we are working through traumatic memories, and it’s bound to remind me of more. Of things that I had forgotten. This is why it’s going to get harder before it gets easier.

Last night apparently I screamed twice. About half an hour apart. I woke up scared, but couldn’t remember why, or what had caused it. I don’t remember screaming – like last time I was asleep.

Then I went back to sleep and had more nightmares. They seemed to follow me all night. I don’t feel rested. I feel exhausted and scared. It’s nearly 12pm and I’ve only just got up. I have to be somewhere at 1, I need to get ready, need to get going. I have to be ok.

I can’t remember all the details, I never do with nightmares. I can remember being with the ex. Him being with someone else and me begging him to come back to me. I told him he could do anything he wanted with me. He made me suck his penis, forcing me to go deeper so I was gagging. We had sex and as I was in pain, he carried on. I felt used, embarrassed, hurt. But I told him he could do what he wanted, and he did. So he didn’t do anything wrong, right?

And all this leads me back to my feelings of shame around sex. When I was with the ex I didn’t even seem to realise that I didn’t have to do sexual stuff whenever he wanted. It was like I thought it was his right. I used to use sex to solve arguments, anytime he was angry I’d “make it up to him”. And I didn’t know this wasn’t a normal relationship. I feel so stupid.

I just want to hide. I feel so sick, so ashamed, so scared.

I just want all of these thoughts and memories to stop.

Scared

I’m so scared of so many things.

I realised that S is the only one who makes me feel safe. When I am scared I just want him to hold me and I know it will be ok. But he’s in London and I’m in Lancaster so for now I just have to be ok by myself.

As time goes on and I start to come to terms with things that have happened, I am realising how fragile I am. I don’t feel safe. I notice I am always on guard, always on edge. Everytime I see a car like his*, I panic. Even though I’m in Lancaster and he isn’t. Even though I know he’s not here. Even though he probably doesn’t even know or care where I am or what I’m doing. I’m so scared that he’s going to come back and hurt me.

I’m going to bed to hide and hope that he won’t haunt me tonight in my dreams. Sometimes I dream of being with S, and wake up feeling safe. Sometimes I dream of being with the ex, and wake up scared. I wonder if that’s what I was dreaming of when I screamed in the night.

Good night,

Love from Ellie xxx

*the ex

Shame

I don’t know why I thought of this as I was doing the washing up, but I did. So I thought I’d write about it – it explains some stuff, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels/has felt this way.

Shamethe painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous,etc., done by oneself or another. (dictionary.com)

Shame: A painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior. (Google definition)

When I was in a relationship with the ex I knew it wasn’t “right” – the way he treated me, the way we argued, the way I was scared… But I didn’t admit that to anyone – not even myself.

And I’ve only come to realise today that it was because I was ashamed. Ashamed that I was so weak to let someone treat me like that. Ashamed that I couldn’t make the relationship work. Ashamed that I was so stupid to let him control me.

I felt so much shame that I hid all the pain. Even to this day, most people don’t know what went on. I think only one person knows everything, and other people know bits. I have never told my parents about any of it – all they know is that we used to argue a lot.

I think the feeling of shame is something that affects some people more than others. I hate the feeling of being judged, and that’s part of it. I didn’t want people to know what was happening because they would judge me and my actions. I’m not a good liar, but apparently I’m pretty good at pretending, which is slightly different. A lie is just a lie, but pretending is living a lie.

And the more you pretend, and live a lie, the more you start to believe it. And then one day it all blows up in your face (like when the ex split up with me) and then you have to face the reality; and see that the perfect story you made up was nothing like the truth at all.

It’s the same with depression: you don’t want to admit it. You hide it as much as you can – you appear to be completely fine (even though really you’re falling apart). This one I’ve kind of got over though – I am more honest about how I feel and I have accepted that this is an illness, and it’s not my fault* and quite a few of my friends/family know that I am not “well”.

Another example of my actions being affected by what others think is the fact that I’m still at uni. I didn’t want to take a year out. Part of that is because I knew I would be judged. I knew people would think things about me, and I didn’t want that. I thought my family would be disappointed, and that I would be seen as a failure. This is not true, but it’s how my mind works. Sometimes I wonder whether I should have taken time out, even though it would mean dealing with the shame, but mostly I am glad that I stuck it out because if I had gone home I might have felt even worse! (And definitely wouldn’t be getting my CBT!)

I guess people don’t like showing their flaws. They don’t like showing that they are not perfect. That’s what I love about WordPress though – here I can be myself. Recovery is a long process that I’m only just beginning, but I think this issue of shame, of fear of what other people will think, is another thing I need to deal with in time.

*sometimes I don’t believe this though

A letter

**Trigger warning: Talks about an abusive relationship**

Dear the Ex

I can’t believe what a mess I am in.

When you left me I thought I would never recover. I thought I would never find someone else. I thought I’d always love you. I don’t though. I hate you now. For everything you did to me, for the pain you put me through and for the way you’ve ruined my life for so long.

I am determined to get through this, because you are not going to win this time. You controlled me and my life for far too long and I’ve had enough. Even though I never see you, never speak to you anymore, I am constantly reminded of everything from the past.

Imagine how it must feel to have flash backs of someone who supposedly loves you holding you up against a wall by your throat. Imagine how much it hurt when someone who supposedly loves you breaks up with you and gets a new girlfriend the next day. You tossed me aside like I was nothing. And now I am nothing. And it’s all because of you.

Three years we were together. I was weak, you were manipulative. I let you control me. I let you turn me into a shadow of who I used to be. I lost my friends, I left scouts, I even moved school for you. And for what? To be bullied, taken advantage of and hurt.

I really wish I never met you. You were trouble from the start. I wish I had opened my eyes and seen what was going on. Everyone else could see it wasn’t healthy, but I wouldn’t listen. I thought they were just trying to ruin it. That’s what you said anyway.

And then when we split up, you carried on using me. You told me you loved me, you told me that you wanted us to get back together one day. You were already with M but you carried on sleeping with me. You told her you were out with your friends when you were really with me.

At first I thought you meant it when you said you loved me. I thought the thing with M meant nothing. And then you told her you loved her. I became a woman possessed. I was obsessed with it. I needed to show her what you were. You told her I was crazy, I was jealous, I was trying to ruin your happiness.

Maybe I was. At the beginning I wanted you back. But then it became more than that. I didn’t know M, I didn’t like M, but I needed to protect her from you.

I told her about how you treated me. I told her that you were manipulative, abusive, messed up. She wouldn’t listen. I told her you were still sleeping with me. She wouldn’t believe me. And you threatened to kill me.

She wouldn’t listen. You lied, you both lied. Said you had split up. Said that it was my fault. And then I found out you were still together. After everything.

And then I went to uni. I got away from you and your manipulative ways. I thought so anyway. You wouldn’t leave me alone. Kept texting and calling, and messing with my head.

It took me a long time to be strong enough to cut you off. I did it eventually.

But I still didn’t feel better. I thought maybe if I saw you, if I spoke to you then I could get some closure, and that would be the end of it. But that didn’t help either. And everytime I tried to give you the benefit of the doubt – I used to give you chance after chance. You always messed it up. You always did something to hurt me. When I tried to ignore me you would threaten me, you would say you’d show people photos of me naked, you said you would kill yourself if I didn’t talk to you. What choice did I have?

So then I realised that was it. I needed to cut you off completely. And no it didn’t erase the memories, and no it didn’t stop the flashbacks or the pain, but it’s stopped you creating anymore horrible memories for me.

If you could see the state I’m in now, I wonder what you’d feel. Maybe you’d be proud; you really did mess me up good and proper. Maybe you’d feel guilty? I doubt it, but maybe. Maybe you’d be sad, ashamed of what you’ve done. Or most likely, you’d laugh. You’d tell me I was making it up – depression isn’t real, that’s what you’d say. I’m exaggerating it, I’m pretending. I’m fine, really, I just need to man up.

But I’m not fine. And it’s your fault. You caused all this. The depression, the anxiety, the panic attacks, flashbacks, feeling of emptiness. And guess what, you ruined my relationship with S too. We split up, are you happy now? Because I’m too much of a mess. Because I can’t be in a relationship. Because when someone gets close to me I get scared. And after all those times you treated me like shit and called me a slut and used me for sex, I’m scared to have sex now, or anything like it. And even though S said he didn’t care, I felt useless. Because that’s what you taught me – it’s all about sex. And this is all your fault. But even now, you’d tell me I was making this up, that it was my fault, that you did nothing wrong.

I am so angry at you for everything you’ve done. I made excuses for a long time, but no more. You are a horrible person. You only care about yourself and getting what you want, you just stayed with me “until somone better came along”, remember that?

I know I need to let this go. It was quite a while ago now. We split up over a year and a half ago. But I can’t forgive you. I can’t get closure because you won’t admit it. And now I’m stuck in this vicious circle – anger, sadness, fear, and round and round and round I go.

I wonder what you’d say if you ever read this. You won’t so it doesn’t matter, but I wish I could know what your reaction would be. You probably think I’m pathetic, you probably are deluded enough to think that all of this means I still love you and I’m not over you. But I don’t love you, I hate you. You’re the only person in the world I really hate. I can’t even explain how much damage you’ve done, but what’s the point anyway, you don’t care.

And the most embarrassingly horrible thing about it all is that YOU ended our relationship. After everything I did for you, after turning me into a robot, YOU ended it. You left me with nothing. And I don’t even get the dignity to say that I escaped, because to be perfectly honest, I probably never would’ve ended it myself. I was trapped. Too scared of you and your threats. How dare you.

What a great first relationship that was. Thanks a lot.

Ellie.

Attack of Anxiety

The anxiety in general hasn’t been too bad, however every time I think that one problem is gone (anxiety) it seems to pop back up!

I do avoid situations in order to prevent anxiety, and I do get easily stressed out – some of the things I need to work on in CBT I think!

But, the other day, anxiety appeared – out of nowhere, and reminded me that it is still a major problem, and shouldn’t be ignored!

Some of my friends went back to uni the weekend that just went, so we went to the pub on Friday for a goodbye meet up.

We went to my local pub, where I frequently go. I often see people from my primary school, which is fine, but I was not expecting to see who I saw this time.

We (my cousin and I, as we arrived first) walked in, and being a Friday, it was quite busy. We walked around and eventually found a table. Just as we were about to sit down, I looked up ahead of me, and saw a large group of people who went to my secondary school.

I have not seen any of them since I left after year 11, and I never wanted to see them again. I have friends from my secondary school, but these people were definitely not my friends.

It was the “popular” group, who used to make my life hell. They would shout stuff at me, and I always felt incredibly uncomfortable around them. They were the people in my year who acted like they owned the place, and I can not explain the anxiety which came over me upon seeing them.

My first instinct was to get up and leave. Preferably leave the pub, or at least move away from them. But they had seen me, and I didn’t want to give them ammunition by walking away. So I sat down, and tried to forget that they were there. They did notice me, I could see them looking at me. I even heard a couple of comments. They were not directed at me, but they were about me, and loud enough for me to hear.

Luckily for me, they left not long after we arrived, and once they were gone I started to relax. My heart was beating fast and I felt disorientated. I wanted to run, and yet I couldn’t.  Once they had been gone for a while, my heartbeat went back to normal, and I was slowly able to calm down. My other friends arrived and we chatted, had a few drinks and it was nice.

But this was a reminder that I can’t escape from the past. And the things from the past are still haunting me…

I am relieved to say that my ex was not with them, even though he did used to be friends with a couple of them. I think if he had been there I wouldn’t have been able to stay, but he wasn’t, so I could.