Today is one of those days where hiding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lots of love,

Ellie xxx 

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Painful hands and procrastination

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guilt

I always feel guilty that I get extra time in exams.

I’ve only started getting the extra time this year (probably could’ve had it last year if I asked) but I feel like I’m cheating because I get 25% extra time on every exam.

I feel like I’m at an advantage and that’s not fair on other people. Today’s exam should’ve been 2 hours but I get 2 and a half. 

I know I’m allowed it. I know I probably needed it earlier in the year, when I was feeling really really low, but now I’m feeling a bit better (most of the time) I feel like I should no longer be entitled to the time.

The thing is, I needed it. Today I used 2 hours 25 minutes, and I was nowhere near done at 2 hours.

I wish I could stop feeling guilty because logically I know I wouldn’t have the extra time if I wasn’t entitled to it. And I definitely think people with depression and anxiety should be allowed extra time.

I guess I’m questioning whether I’m “depressed enough” anymore. 

But then I guess the part of me who questions that doesn’t remember that I spent the first 20 minutes of the exam staring out of the window trying to calm my racing thoughts and anxiety. And that I still get sad/cry a lot more than a “normal” person.

It’s like when things feel better I can’t remember (or maybe block out?) the bad times, and when I feel bad, I can’t remember the good things.

So ist das Leben!

(That’s life!)

Feeling more like me

These few weeks are stressful time – exam season, when all students realise they haven’t done enough work all year and try to make up for it over a couple of weeks. I have done two exams now – cognitive last week and my german speaking today. Two down, four to go.

But the thing is, as much as I am hating revision and stressing, I also came to the realisation that I feel a lot more like me than I have done for a very long time. As I’m revising, I’m remembering why I chose psychology and german, I’m remembering that I like to learn, and I’m wishing that I had enjoyed learning it at the time (then revision would be a much easier process!)

That’s not to say that I’m not still having my moments. Today about an hour before my speaking exam I felt incredibly sick and could feel the anxiety bubbling up. But some fresh air, some water, deep breaths and reassurance from a good friend later – I did it. And no, it didn’t go perfectly, and yes – it could’ve been better. But maybe (just maybe) I’m finally realising that that is ok. It doesn’t need to be perfect. I did the best I could today and that’s all I can ask of myself. I could go over and over it in my head, analysing what I said wrong and where I used the wrong case or gender… but that won’t change it, so what’s the point?

Today it has been sunny in Lancaster (a rare sight!) It’s been such a beautiful day and at one point I realised that I’m definitely on my way to becoming me. I don’t really know who that is anymore, at the stage in life where people become themselves, I was being controlled by the ex. I lost all sense of who I was (am?) and I didn’t know what to do without him. Since then I’ve been so lost in darkness that I haven’t really figured out who I am, but now the fog is clearing and I’m realising – I can be who I want to be now. It’s my life, my choice and I’m never going to let anyone take that away from me again.

Talking of which, in summer 2014 it looks like I might be on an exciting trip! (I definitely wouldn’t have been allowed when I was with the ex!) A trip to Namibia, and guess what’s in Namibia?? That’s right… elephants!! 😀

Maybe it’s the revision making me crazy, but today I don’t have too much to complain about. Anyway, back to stats revision I go… (can you think of a more thrilling Tuesday evening?)

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.

One week to go

Thought I’d check in as I haven’t been blogging so much recently, like I said, too much work!

Hope everyone is doing ok here, and once I am done with my work I will catch up on all the posts I’ve missed.

There is 1 week left of term. This time next week, I should have: handed in 4 pieces of coursework, done a german presentation, done a statistics exam and finished all lectures/seminars for 2nd year…

It’s going to be a close call and I don’t know if I will get all of that done. But I’m going to give it a damn good try. I decided I’m sick of not being able to do my work, so I’m ploughing through anyway. I probably won’t get as good grades as I am hoping for, but I’m doing my best, and right now, my best isn’t fantastic but that’s the best I can do.

I am saying this cautiously, as I don’t want to jinx things, but things seem to be looking up. I am still having lows, but also having days that are ok, good even, this week. The psychiatrist said that once I start feeling better it will be gradual, there will gradually become more good days and less bad days until ta da – you’re better!

There is definitely a long way to go before I feel better, but progress is being made. I don’t know if it’s the CBT, or the medication, a mixture of the two, or that this week has randomly been a bit better, but the point is there is hope, and things will change.

I’ll be back soon!

Lots of love,

Ellie xxx

Trying

I’ve written 294 words. It’s not a lot but it’s a start. I have all this coursework to do, so I had to start somewhere.

I’m translating the first 2 pages of Harry Potter und der Stein der Weisen (AKA HP and the philospher’s stone) into English. 294 words so far, I’m about 1/4 of the way through the second page. That’s my aim before dinner, to finish the page.

I had an idea that I will translate pages 3 and 4 from English into German too. But I don’t have the English version of the book here, so my dad is going to scan it.

I always underestimate the brain power and amount of time needed for me to translate stuff. It’s not hard, Harry Potter, and especially the first one, is written for children. I should be able to translate 2 pages!

Hopefully my teacher will think this is a good idea when she comes to mark it. We have to do an independent learning portfolio, which basically means we have to do 6 pieces of work and evaluate it, and show how it has helped us progress with our German learning. I did 3 last term, so just have to make corrections on those, and I’m doing the Harry Potter translations, a film review (of a German film that I haven’t actually watched yet) and some kind of grammar exercise. I think.

Wow, this was a boring blog post – sorry! But it kind of helped to get it straight in my mind.

It’s taken me most of the day to get going with work. I stayed in bed until nearly 2, and didn’t do much once I got up. I spoke to S just before 4 and I hadn’t started yet. He told me to just try and do something. I know he’s right. I know he knows that I’m struggling, but sometimes it feels like people are thinking “just get over it”, even though I know he’d never say that. And I hope he doesn’t think it either. I am trying, really hard.

But even if this is all I get done today, it’s better than nothing – right?

Lots of love,

Ellie xxx

P.S. I still find it so funny that one of the most common searches that leads to my blog is Despicable Me Minions! hehe

Today was a good day

Today was actually quite a good day.

I don’t want to jinx anything by saying that, but maybe, just maybe, things are looking up.

I’ve now been on lofepramine for about 3 weeks, which is about the amount of time it should take to start kicking in. And I’ve been going to CBT sessions for a few weeks now. We haven’t got very far yet, but I’ve only had 4 sessions, and we are beginning to deal with the major issues already.

Today I didn’t have a CBT session, even though it’s Monday. I think A has children, and has the week off because it’s half term, but I don’t know for sure. My next session will be next Monday instead, so I’ve had a week off. It meant that I could have a lie in this morning, so instead of leaving the house at about 8:20, I didn’t have to leave until 10:25!

Uni was alright today; I only had 2 German seminars. We were learning about German music, and phrases to say in an argument/debate. I also learnt a couple of idioms which is great because I love German idioms! 🙂

Then I actually did some work! I did my seminar reading for social psychology – and the seminar isn’t until Thursday! (This is definitely a first!) and I started my online statistics assessment which isn’t due until Friday!

I had a meeting with one of the lecturers about helping with some research, and there’s a few different projects so I get to give a preference for which I’d like to help with. I think they all sounded interesting so I would be happy to help with any of them! They are only expecting us to do about 1 hour a week, and then I can have “research assistant” on my CV! That will be really useful in the future I think!

After I got home from uni I skyped Sheep who is in Germany, and we had a nice long chat! She was very excited when I told her that S and I got back together! (She knows him too!) I am really looking forward to my holiday to Germany just after Easter! I am going to stay with Sheep for a few days and we are going to do some exploring, and lots of German things!

All in all, today was a good day! I am completely exhausted now, and I haven’t done everything I should’ve done, BUT I have done more than I normally would do, and today has been pretty anxiety-free!

It’s only 20 past 9, but I’m planning to watch eastenders, make a plan of what I’m going to do tomorrow and then get a nice early night!

I hope today has been a good day for everyone else too!

And just before I finish this post, I’m going to leave you with the picture which is now on the wall next to my desk! Guaranteed to make me smile! – I hope you like her!

Lots of love,

Ellie xxx

Image

Post of stuff

I’m back in Lancaster after a weekend at home, and now I can write this post of the things that I’ve been meaning to write about! So here goes!

First one, lent. I meant to write about this earlier in the week but I didn’t because I was too busy, so it can go into my post of stuff! This year for lent I have decided to give up alcohol. I’m not really sure why I do lent – it’s probably a bit hypocritical to be honest. I’m not very religious and I don’t go to church often. I don’t quite know what I believe, although I do want to believe in God… But anyway, I normally give something up for lent because “I should”, and probably for the wrong reasons, but anyway. Not only does this mean that I don’t have to deal with 40 days of chocolate cravings (like when I gave up chocolate one year) but also it is probably beneficial for my health not to drink. The doctor always reminds me that alcohol and depression don’t mix, and alcohol and antidepressants definitely don’t mix, but I normally just say that I don’t drink often.* So I am giving it a chance, especially after my recent drunken behaviour!

Next – the exam. I had my German listening exam on Friday, and I’m not too sure how it went, but I did it and I understood most of what they said. So hopefully it’ll be ok. I really need to work on my perception of “doing ok” too – my perfectionism is ridiculous. I looked on my transcript, and I’m on a 66% average at the moment, which is a decent 2:1, but my brain does not find this acceptable, and won’t find it acceptable unless it’s above 70% (which is a 1st). This is one of the major things that I need to work on with A.

And now I can move onto talking about the weekend. Once I managed to catch the train (which I nearly missed because of my indecisiveness) I was on my way home! I tend to go home once a term for a weekend, just to get away from Lancaster for a bit. I love Lancaster, and my friends there, but sometimes you just want your own bed and a nice roast dinner cooked by mum! On Friday I had a yummy chinese take away, on Saturday I went to the pub with some of my friends from where I used to work, and today (Sunday) I met my cousin in a cake shop for a chat and then my mum made a lovely roast dinner and I ate too much! The weekend went far too quickly, but it was a nice one. And for once, I feel reasonably relaxed on a Sunday evening,

But this post of stuff wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the main thing that has happened recently in Ellie land.

On Saturday I met S** for coffee***, and it was a bit weird. I felt really detached, and it was kind of awkward. It was the first time we had seen each other properly since we split up. We have still been talking a lot – on the phone, by text etc, but seeing each other was a bit strange. In a way, things hadn’t really changed when we split up – we still talked everyday, and I still missed him a lot. After the coffee*** we went for a walk and then back to my car to talk. I got upset because things felt weird, and it felt like neither of us had anything to say. He held me as I was crying, and we ended up kissing each other. (This was probably my fault.) We talked about the problems – the distance, the way things didn’t feel right, the pain, and we couldn’t decide what to do. Eventually we left it as “we’ll just see what happens” and decided we wouldn’t see anyone else, but wouldn’t make any decisions further than that.

Then he had to go and meet another friend, so I went home. In the evening we went to the pub, and afterwards I drove people home. I dropped him off last, and we ended up talking for ages, and eventually decided that we would give us another try. Even though the distance is hard, we decided it was still hard even when we weren’t together, and we both missed each other a lot so it is probably worth another try. Obviously things aren’t perfect – I’m still a mess and I know that hurts him, but he said it hurts him whether we are together or not, and he wants to be there for me and make me happy.

As usual, I did a lot of crying, but I think this is the right decision. It might not work, but at least we will be able to say we tried. We agreed that we will be more open with each other and talk to each other about any problems which arise in the relationship, instead of pretending everything is ok like last time. We also realised that we need to put more effort into the relationship. Before, we just expected it to work and we didn’t make enough time just for us, or put the effort in to make things right. I hope that now we will be better at communicating, and will make sure we take time just for us which will help things work better.

I realised that I feel safe with S. Completely. I don’t think he would ever hurt me in any way, and I know that he will always do his best to look after me. I know I’m a complete nightmare a lot of the time, but somehow he loves me anyway. I am so lucky to have him, and I hope one day that I will be able to let myself trust him. I love him more than as a friend, but I don’t think I’m in love with him. I don’t know if it matters, but I also think it might be because I won’t let myself because of what happened with the ex. If you don’t let yourself fall for someone, they can’t hurt you – right?

So basically, a lot has been going on, and things have changed (again) in Ellie land!

In terms of how I’m feeling – I don’t really know. I feel more hopeful for the future, and even though I’m incredibly worried about the amount of work and stuff that I need to do this term, I think things are going to get better. In fact, I am determined to get better. I’ve had quite enough of this being defeated thing!

If you’ve read this whole long, rambling post – thank you! I’m sorry it’s ended up so long! Just had a mini heartattack – Accidentally deleted the whole post! But luckily found the undo button! 😉

*Which is true-ish. I only drink when I go out, and I normally go out less than once a week. But still – better than drinking everyday right?

**S being my exboyfriend (but not “The Ex”) who is still my best friend

***Ok so neither of us had (or like) coffee, but we went to a coffee shop. I had a mango and passionfruit fruit smoothie, but that’s not really relevant.