I won

Two weeks ago I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Since then I have been sky diving and completed a 4 day walking expedition. Take that chronic pain and fatigue! 

I feel so proud that I finished my hike. It was bloody hard and painkillers and sugar were my friends, but I did it. I was incredibly lucky with the weather (hello burnt arms!) and that I had a lovely team I was walking with, but we did it. The first morning of the first day I wasn’t sure if I would get to the end, but I was determined and continued. By the end of day 4 I was in agony and all I could manage was putting one foot in front of the other (had to leave the map reading to the others) but WE DID IT!

I’m completely shattered now though. Clever me thought it would be a good idea to go straight back to work afterwards, it was not. Still, only one more day at work until the weekend and my best friend is coming to stay!! 

I want to remember this when the pain and fatigue takes over and I feel like I can’t do anything. I will not let this control my life, I will not let it win. I will not let a diagnosis stop me from doing the things I want to do*. So for this week I can say, I won. 

Will write again soon, got a load of posts in draft but this week I’m too sleepy!

Love,

Ellie xx

*although I need to learn to manage my time and ability to stop and rest better, but I’ll get there in time. 

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I don’t like goodbyes

Goodbyes are inevitable over the next week, I’m going in just over a week.

But I hate goodbyes, they seem so final. And there’s so many people I’m going to miss.

Yesterday was my last day at my volunteering place, they got me a ‘thank you’ card which was really nice. Sunday is my last day of work, so that will be more goodbyes. Then comes Monday when I will see Owl for the first and last time this summer, and after that I’m meeting up with some of the girls from my old school, and then my scouty friends (busy busy Ellie!) On Tuesday I’m having lunch with another friend, and I’m also meant to be meeting up with my oldest friend (Twin) at some point next week. I’ve also got to fit in more goodbyes, packing and making sure everything is organised for my early morning flight on Monday! 

So I’m very busy, and it’s a bit overwhelming. My head is overflowing with too many thoughts and ideas, and I think all this stress is causing my migraines to flare up. I’m scared of things going wrong and I hardly seem to have time to actually be excited!

The worst goodbye will be saying goodbye to S. I have seen him a lot recently and I always rely on him when I’m feeling low. But I won’t be able to do that when I’m away. It was hard when I was in Lancaster, but from Germany I won’t be able to phone as often.

I guess I will have to learn to be more independent this year. It’s probably a good thing, but I’m worried about if I feel worse again, will I be able to look after myself? I think this will be a good year for me (to develop as a person) as long as I am well enough to look after myself and be strong. 

Well at least there is one goodbye I don’t have to say – I won’t be saying goodbye to you guys here on WordPress, I want to continue my blog while I’m abroad. My posting may be a bit sporadic (as if it wasn’t already!) at first because I will be busy busy busy (as usual!)

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?

When things go right & CBT

Things seem to be going right at the moment (not to jinx this!)

Today has been pretty productive:

For my psychology dissertation I am using a computer program to make the experiment (a dot that moves, pictures that come up, and it records reaction time etc.) So today’s first victory was making a dot move across a screen (no, I’m not joking!) It’s not quite right in terms of timing yet, but there’s a dot and it moves so I’m half way there with that bit!

I also had an email back today from my project supervisor, and he has only made a few suggestions for changes on my ethics proposal, meaning that with any luck I will be able to finish it and hand it in early next week (ahead of the deadline on Friday.)

I also had a response back from my old school about doing my research there, using the pupils as research participants, and they said yes!

I also rang work (I will be starting work again once I’m home for summer) and sorted out some hours, and they’ve said I can have a few days off in mid-July so it turns out I probably will get to go away with S afterall! 🙂

This week I have also heard back from my school in Germany and my mentor teacher seems lovely. And she’s sorted out somewhere for me to live for the first few weeks of my stay in Germany, so I will be able to find somewhere for the rest of the year when I get there!

More good news on the Germany front – apparently if you register at a university you can get a card that gives you free travel (bus, tram and train) around the region… this sounds amazing!!

And today was also my CBT. We talked about the progress I’ve made this week – about going out last Friday and Saturday and that I managed to think mindfully that I was safe, and in doing so actually enjoyed my nights! We also spoke about these negative thoughts, the next thing to do is to try and stop them when I identify them. At the moment I seem to have a negative thought (now I become aware of it) but then it turns into a negative spiral and I end up feeling really low, paranoid, sad, lonely (insert other negative emotions here!) SO as I become more aware of these thoughts, hopefully I will start to be able to look at the thought, accept it, but stop it (because it is a thought and not a fact!) and thus not “Put the same DVD on”/”Get on the negative thought train”/go into a massive negative spiral. It sounds so easy when it’s put like this, but in reality it really isn’t. BUT I am determined to continue to make progress even after my CBT is finished.* I have bought a book and CD about mindfulness, (but silly Ellie sent it to London instead of Lancaster so I don’t have it yet) so I will write about that when I get home and start using it. Apparently the book has a mindfulness program that you can follow (I think A said 8 weeks?) so that should be interesting (and hopefully helpful!)

On my way home from CBT, I bought a card and a box of maltesers for my friend (pres**) as it’s her birthday tonight, and I am going to her house later for predrinks (jelly shots? Yes please!) and then out to a bar/pub and our student club. BUT I am being nice to me (yes, really!) and I am saying that I will go to predrinks and the bar/pub but I might not go to the club if I don’t feel like it. I am very tired and have had a lot going on this week, so I will see how I feel later. Quite proud of this development – compromise: I am still not letting down my friend (because I do want to celebrate her birthday with her) but I am not forcing myself to go “out out” if I don’t feel like it later. 

Final good news for today was that I rang a Mental Health Centre where I am going to be doing some volunteering over the summer. Originally they had asked me to do Fridays (as it’s their busiest day) but unfortunately work said they can’t give me Fridays off (because it’s a busy day!) so I was worried about what they would say when I said I can’t do Fridays anymore. But the man (who I met in the easter holidays) was lovely, remembered me, and said it’s fine to do Thursdays. In fact he said Thursdays are the nicest day to be there, so that’s exciting! I will be volunteering at a mental health drop-in centre where people can come and chat, have some tea, do different activities etc., and Thursday is the women only drop-in.

Oh yes, and another good thing! Tomorrow I am off to Warwick to visit one of my best friends – Monkey. That will be great as I haven’t seen her since easter, and Leamington Spa is a really nice place as well!

So I probably won’t be back (on WP) until Monday as I’ll be in Warwick and socialising rather than blogging, but this afternoon’s plan involves a nap and catching up on reading blogs before I go out!

Lots of love,

(from a pretty positive) Ellie xxx

*Next week is the last session with A! Arghhh!

**Not sure if I have mentioned her before. She is called “Pres” as she is the new president of one of the societies at uni.

Experimenting on Ellie

Today (yesterday now) was the last time that all of my housemates were together so we decided to go out to our student club in Lancaster for one last night. I have to say I was not massively looking forward to it, but as last night was quite good, and it was a chance to see everyone again, I decided to go (and having pre-bought a ticket was also encouragement to go!)

It just so happened that tonight was the night that we had guest DJs in our club – which doesn’t happen very often. It was Rudimental, and the tickets sold out way before the actual day. Obviously this was a recipe for disaster for me: loud music + smoke and flashing lights + LOADS of people = my idea of hell.

But I went, and hoped it somehow wouldn’t be too busy.

It was busy. Immensely busy! Everyone was crammed in like sardines in a tin, and it was boiling hot. But as I was there, I thought hey, let’s do an Ellie experiment here.

So I tried some mindfulness techniques – I tried to be aware of the present moment, I looked around at the exact situation I was in. I tried to identify escape routes, and decided that wasn’t really an option – something even worse than being squished would be being squished and lost! And I allowed myself to become aware of the panic I was feeling – the dissociation I was feeling, the fast heart beat, the increased breathing… and accepted this.

I told myself: I am safe, there is nothing that is going to hurt me here, and I can do this. And as time went on I accepted the current situation – I was surrounded by a lot of people, it was quite tightly packed, it was very hot and there was loud music, flashing lights and smoke… but none of this is actually dangerous. Especially as I was very fortunate to have my lovely housemate (Mr Maps) to try and keep a bit of space around me so I didn’t get too squashed!

And once I had done this, I wasn’t so scared anymore. And as time went on, I started to relax, and maybe became a bit desensitised to it all, and even started to enjoy it. 

I was very proud of myself for staying in there, I have run away in much less busy and calmer situations before, but not today. I stayed, I experimented, it paid off and I quite enjoyed it. It was a night where instead of constantly checking my phone to see if it was an acceptable time to leave, I was not the one to suggest leaving. And I stayed until 2:20, which may not be that late to most people, but considering there have been many times that I have left before 1:30, or even 1, I think it was a pretty successful night! 

So sometimes when you have the right people, the motivation to experiment, and more importantly, the right shoes*, things can turn out much better than expected, and you can do things you didn’t realise you could do.

So today turned into a pretty nice day. I also went to Morecambe with Mr Maps and Footballer earlier in the day. We went to the seaside, which was incredibly windy! And then we went bowling, (where I decided not to pursue a career in bowling) followed by a game of pool (where I decided definitely not to pursue a career in pool!) It was a really nice day, followed by a great evening with great people. I will really miss those two when I’m away in Germany… unfortunately my other housemate decided she had more important things to do and people to see to spend the day or evening with us, but we weren’t going to let her ruin this!

And now it is 3:45, I am sober and about to go to bed, and I just ate some yummy cake (that Footballer made for me as a leaving cake – it says “miss you” on it!) So now I am feeling pretty good, and I’ve decided that some people are worth the effort and some aren’t – and that’s ok.

Now time for lots of hours of sleep! – I definitely won’t be getting up early in the morning!

Lots of love,

Ellie xxx

*Tonight I decided to wear heels – my most comfortable ones. It was definitely a good move tonight because those extra 4 or 5 inches really helped me not to get too squashed in the crowd, and being only 4 feet and 11 and 3/4 inches tall at my natural height, I need all the help I can get!! Although, that aside – my feet are killing me now!

Come here – Go away

**Trigger warning – self harm thoughts**

A lovely blogger, Zoe, has been writing posts on the topic of boundaries this week, and having read them, I realised I have a lot of issues around this area.

One of the posts was on the difference between healthy and defensive boundaries. The bit that seems to be most relevant to me (at the moment anyway) is Split off boundaries. In particular, this bit:

  • Relationships are threatening both abandonment and invasion wise

  • It manifests as ‘come here, go away,’ indicating both a need for distance and closeness.

I realised that this is a MASSIVE problem for me. My boyfriend, S, has to put up with this all the time and it must be difficult for him (and confusing.) I seem to be sending mixed messages all the time – come here and go away. I’m so scared of being left/abandoned and I want him to be there for me (that’s the “come here” part) and at the same time I’m scared to be close because I don’t like relying on him (because he could leave me) so when I get scared I end up pushing him away (“go away” part.)

It’s very strange, but these things happen very naturally and I feel like I don’t have much control. For example I am terrified, and I mean TERRIFIED, that he’s going to find someone else and cheat on me/leave me for someone else (like the ex did.) I know it’s irrational, I know he wouldn’t hurt me like that. And more embarrassingly, I am terrified that he’s going to realise that one of our mutual friends (Sheep) is effectively a better version of me. We are very similar in personality, except she doesn’t have all of these “issues”, and she’s thinner than me… They went to the pub together last night and S didn’t bother to text me after work. He always rings me after work, but yesterday not even a text. And I’m so paranoid and jealous, and I don’t know why. Sheep is one of my best friends and I know that (even if S turned out to be a cheating idiot) she wouldn’t do that to me. And yet I worked myself up about it.

And so when I spoke to S last night (after I had had a couple of cocktails – probably a bad move) I was upset that he didn’t bother to text me. We ended up arguing about it, and as usual I created a massive negative spiral… You didn’t text me, that means you don’t care, you don’t love me, you’d rather be with Sheep anyway… I’m not good enough, you’re going to leave me… and on and on. And I told him I don’t want to be with him anymore. That’s not true, I just got scared. I wanted to leave before he left me, I can’t go through being left like that again.

It’s scary being with someone, letting them in. Because S could tear my world apart (if he wanted to.) He knows pretty much everything about me. I rely on him a lot too much and I hate myself for it. I feel like I need him. And I need constant reassurance because I don’t think I’m good enough. I don’t think I deserve to be loved. And it’s all scary because I could get hurt again. And I don’t think I could go through it all again.

Things have definitely gone downhill in the last few weeks. I think since around my birthday, I’ve become really scared, paranoid, jealous, clingy… everything I don’t want to be. And I can’t seem to stop. Even if I don’t say these things I go mad in my head thinking about them. Last night I had such a massive urge to hurt myself. And when I was walking home I thought about if someone came and killed me, it would be so much easier, and then it wouldn’t be my fault. I didn’t do anything but the thoughts were there, and they were strong. I haven’t been thinking like that recently so I definitely think this is a sign of things getting worse.

I don’t know how to control all of this. Come here, go away. I love you, I hate you. I want to be with you, I don’t want to be with you… It’s all a mess. And sooner or later he is actually going to get sick of it, and then I will be on my own.

Why can’t you get this into your thick skull Ellie?? He loves you that’s why he’s with you. That’s why he’s still there after nearly a year and a half. And he always tries to help, even when you’re acting irrationally. Why do you have to push away someone that really cares? Why can’t you be rational? Why can’t you be happy, you have everything.

You may have noticed my head is a bit all over the place at the moment. I don’t quite know why. But I’m going home today, just until Monday. S is meeting me at the station and I know I need to talk to him. I just don’t know what to say anymore, I’m so broken. I just want to feel safe.

CBT and climbing

Today’s CBT was difficult. Really difficult. I’m going to write another post about the difficult bit (probably will use a password again for that post.) I cried for literally nearly the whole hour. I think we ran over a bit too, too much crying (oops).

My homework for next week (Monday!) is to do some “experiments” on myself. I have to consciously aim to give something 75 or 80% (instead of 100%) and see what happens. What I expect I will feel, and then what I actually feel afterwards.

But I couldn’t understand the concept really. She said about giving 75%, and I was confused. I said, I don’t get it… why would anyone ever not try their best? What’s the point in doing something if it’s not to the best of your ability? Surely you should always aim to get as close to 100% as possible? I think I was missing the point entirely. She just wants me to try it, to prove that the world isn’t going to end, that it doesn’t make me a failure.

Well, I’ll give it a go anyway.

And then I went climbing after my CBT session. Today was quite a nice day, so I had a nice walk through the park and down to the bus stop to get the bus to uni (where the climbing wall is).

I met my climbing partner (owl) there and we went bouldering for a bit. My hands are falling to pieces, literally. S says it’s because I have soft hands so they get damaged easily. I ended up with a painful bit of skin peeling off one hand (sorry for too much info!) and had to put a plaster on it. I’m hoping in time my hands will become more resistant, because at the moment everytime I climb I end up tearing my hands to shreds! My head of year for Psychology was there (climbing too) and he helped me with one of the routes I had been stuck on for a while, so that was good.

And then we put our harnesses on and started roped climbing. We decided to do an easyish route to start with, but I was really struggling. I felt really weak and quite anxious. I managed to do it though, and then Owl climbed the same route (in less than half the time!)

Then we moved onto another one that was a bit harder. I’ve done it before so I know I can physically do it. But half way up I just started feeling really funny. Really anxious and shaky and emotional. And keeping my CBT in mind, I asked to come down. I didn’t push myself to finish it because I was feeling weird. Maybe if I had given it 100% I could’ve finished it anyway, but today I didn’t, and giving it 75%, I couldn’t do it today. I needed to get down.

I think climbing straight after CBT was definitely a mistake and I won’t do it again in future. Especially with today’s session being really emotional, I think it was all too much. I didn’t have the mental capacity to concentrate and push myself on climbing, and it had brought the anxiety levels up so I didn’t trust myself to try moves I probably could have done (on the bouldering) and couldn’t get myself to climb routes that I’ve done before.

So maybe even though I could consider today’s climbing as a bit of a failure, it was actually a good thing. I let myself off instead of pushing myself too hard. And this evening I went out for dinner with friends and then watched TV with housemates and it was nice. I had a good evening and I enjoyed myself, and it doesn’t matter that I didn’t climb much today because I don’t need to get everything right 100% of the time… how’s that for progress A? 😛

And now it’s very late, so definitely time for some sleep!

Good night,

Lots of love,

Ellie xxx

What’s in a name?

Daily Prompt:

Write about your first name: Are you named after someone or something? Are there any stories or associations attached to it? If you had the choice, would you rename yourself?

My real first name is something I am almost never called. My parents and everyone else have always called me the shortened version of my name. (It’s like if my name were Eleanor, but everyone calls me Ellie.)

I’ve asked my parents why they chose my name, and got a very boring answer. My mum said “your dad liked it.” No story behind it, nothing! And my middle name was chosen because my mum had a lot of friends with that name (not sure if this is true or a joke*).

As for my name here (Ellie) it was used by a certain blogging friend and then it caught on, so I kept it. Ellie the elephant fits quite well, as I originally started the blog as “anxious elephant”. And anyway, I really like the name Ellie. I think if I ever have a daughter I would like to call her Ellie, maybe. 

If I had the choice to have a different name, I’m not sure what I’d pick really! I would feel strange using a different name! It’s not really about the name though is it? It’s more about who you are; whether I’m using my real name or Ellie, I’m still me. 

Lots of love,

Ellie 🙂

xxx

*That this is the reason, not that my mum had a lot of friends with that name, she did/does!

Things to look forward to

Tonight I’m feeling a bit down. I’m tired and fed up of revision. So I’m writing things to look forward to, because there are lots. I need to remember them when feeling down, instead of getting stuck in a negative loop.

  1. On Wednesday (after my exam) I am going climbing again with Owl*
  2. Next week is my birthday and S is coming to visit**
  3. Sometime in the next few weeks I should find out which Bundesland (region) of Germany I will be going to, and then soon(ish) after that I will find out which town!
  4.  On 28th May my exams will be over and I won’t have any proper exams for nearly 2 years.
  5. In June I’m going to visit Monkey at her uni.
  6. At the beginning of July I will be home and will get to see my friends from home.
  7. Sometime in the summer S and I are hopefully going to go somewhere for a holiday
  8. In August/September I will be moving to Germany for a year and starting a new adventure! (And I will have a disposable income because I will be getting paid for working!)
  9. In summer 2014 I am (hopefully) going to Namibia (and there are elephants – did I mention that? 😛 )
  10. In summer 2015 I will graduate.

There are many things to look forward to, some are big and some are small, but basically, there’s hope for the future, even if statistics revision seems to be the worst thing in the world*** right now.

* We went today as well, although it hurt I am determined to complete some of the routes I haven’t managed to do yet!

**I’ve barely thought about my birthday because of exams but I am SO EXCITED to see S, it will be nice to be able to spend time together without him having to go to work, or me having coursework to do.

***Clearly it isn’t, this is a MASSIVE over-exaggeration, but I’m in a “woe is me” mood so you’ll have to forgive me!