Ellie Abroad!

(I wrote this post yesterday – Friday, but forgot to publish it!)

I wrote in my last post that I had arrived in Germany, but due to limited internet I haven’t had a chance to read everyone else’s blogs or write anything else. Now I am sitting in my room and I have time to write (and afterwards to read!)

I arrived at the small town where my school is on the train yesterday. Then I met Mrs Sport (the teacher I am living with for a while until I sort somewhere else out) and we went for “kaffee und kuchen” (coffee and cake!) I love this German tradition, but a cake a day would make a fat Ellie!! Then we drove to the house, which is in a tiny village about 20 minutes away from the school. There is one bus a day to the town where my school is, and one to the other nearest town… this is not a place to be if you want to travel (without a car!)

But it is lovely here. Mrs Sport is lovely and so is her son. The countryside is very pretty and there’s real fresh air here (I’m not in London anymore!) 

Today I had my first day at school, and it went really well. The school is quite small and very friendly, and I was surprised at how well behaved the children were! The school is a secondary school which is for age 10 – 16, so they are slightly younger when they go to secondary school than in England, even though they start primary school later! 

I met the teachers who were all friendly too, and went to some lessons to watch and meet some of the classes. I went to 3 english lessons, a music lesson, an R.E. lesson and a double P.E. lesson with different aged classes. Words cannot describe how cute the 10 year olds sound when they are trying to speak english! (Although some of them did look at me like I was an alien!) The town where the school is is very cute – it’s small but it has everything you would need (including a train station and buses – unlike the village I’m in!)

On  Monday I will meet my mentor teacher (she’s on a school trip to London at the moment!) and I’m going into some lessons with another English teacher. So there’s plenty more to look forward to.

I haven’t got used to these early starts yet, but hopefully I will soon! I’m knackered!

Really, the short version of this is: I’m in Germany and things are going well!

I do miss home and everything, and especially S, but I’m trying to keep busy and speak lots of German. 

I made it

So I made it to Germany.
I got up at 3:30 this morning to catch an early flight, arrived in Cologne and sat in Starbucks for a few hours until the coach arrived, and I’m now in my pyjamas at the hotel place where we are doing our training. Today has been a long and tiring day. Parts are overwhelming and my worries (as ever) are there! But I made it – took the first step.now just lots more little steps and it’ll all be fine!

Most of the other language assistants are in the bar downstairs but I’ve decided I’m far too tired and needed some time alone and more importantly, some sleep!

I’ll be catching up on everyone’s blogs as soon as I can, but just wanted to do an update.

Lots of love,
Ellie xxx

Disclosing mental illnesses

Despite the fact that now it is a lot more “acceptable” to talk about mental illness, there is still a stigma. Even though there are laws to say that employers can’t use your mental illnesses as a reason not to give you a job etc., it doesn’t mean that isn’t sometimes a reason (it could even happen implicitly.)

I have been quite open about my issues… when I was first diagnosed, I told my work. At uni, I told my tutor, my departments etc. Close friends know (at least part of) what is going on/has happened. Most of these people don’t know the full story but they know I suffer from depression and anxiety.

I am off to Germany in 2 weeks, to a place where no one knows anything about me.

They don’t know that I have depression or anxiety, they don’t know any of it at all. And now I have to decide who needs to know and who doesn’t.

For example, I’m staying with a family for at least the first month… do they need to know? At first I thought not. And then I realised I probably should warn them about me screaming in the night sometimes (as it has happened a few times recently.) But how would I explain that? 

And what about the school I’m going to be working in? Or the university I’ll be enrolling at? Or the friends I make there?

Who needs to know? Or maybe the better question is, who do I want to know?

I would love to not tell any of them, and for everything to run smoothly, without my depression and anxiety affecting me in a major way… but is that realistic? Probably not.

I know that if I start struggling I need to reach out for help and support straight away, not wait until I literally have had enough and have booked myself on the next flight home. But what if I tell them and they judge me? What if I tell them and then I’m fine – I’ll look like I’m lying. What if I don’t tell them and then I need help?

Too many questions. And I don’t know the right answer to any of them. I don’t know how understanding/supportive they would/will be. I just don’t know!

When Footballer came to stay//Excited Ellie

This could be two posts really, but I’ll put it in one as that makes sense if I’m posting them on the same day anyway!

When Footballer came to stay.

My best friend from uni (Footballer) came to stay for a few days this week. It was lovely to see her and have a big catch up. We get on really well and are very similar in many ways. We went shopping, watched lots of films, ate rubbishy food, went around London a bit and it was fun. It made me realise how much I’m going to miss uni this year and made me hope (more than ever) that my friends from uni will stay in touch even though I won’t be there (because I’ll be in Germany.)

We met Mr Maps for the day on Monday and we went to Greenwich to the planetarium and then sat in the sun looking at the views. It was great being with them both, all three of us lived together this year at uni (plus shopaholic.) 

And on Tuesday we met Mr Maps again in the evening for dinner (as he’s working in London at the moment) and S came after he finished work. He makes me smile so much, and I realised that things are really good at the moment.

It was sad when Footballer had to go back home, it’s always hard to say goodbye. But this time I don’t know when the next time I’ll see her is. She said she’ll visit in Germany, and I’m planning to go to Lancaster at some point in the next year to visit, but who knows when that will be or if it will happen.

Excited Ellie

It has happened. Yep – I’m actually excited about Germany. The fear, worry, what-ifs etc. are all still there, but there’s also a large part of me that is looking forward to it. It will be an opportunity to do something completely different.

I won’t have to study for a whole year. No exams for a whole year! I will be teaching my language to students, and at the same time trying to learn their language, and if all goes to plan I will be pretty much fluent by the time I get back. This is all exciting stuff, and even though it’s really daunting and sometimes I think it was the wrong decision and I wish I could stay here instead, I am glad I’m going and I think it’s going to be a good year.

I know it will be hard. Probably very hard at times, but I can get through it. And hopefully I’ll come out the other side with considerable German language skills, more confidence, more independence and happier. 

It’s difficult because I know that the depression and anxiety aren’t “gone”, maybe they never will be completely. I’m a lot better than I was though, and I’m going to make sure I look after myself and won’t allow myself to slip down the slippery slope again. Life is too short to waste these opportunities!

So it’s less than 3 weeks now! I’ve booked my flight, emailed my mentor teacher and my host family, ordered an international student card, got my passport, etc. etc. I’ve been a busy little Ellie-bee and most of the preparations are done. Now is just the small problem of trying to fit everything I need into one 20kg suitcase… I don’t tend to travel lightly, and when I came home from uni this summer, my stuff filled up the whole of my mum’s people-carrier car so this is going to be a tough one!!

And even though I know I am really going to miss S while I’m away, we’ll be ok. We’ve been long distance since we got together, and even though this time we’re in different countries, it’s basically going to be the same. It’s hard at times, and it takes a lot of effort to make a relationship to work, but that’s ok because we both want to do it. Somehow my constant worrying and fears that he’s going to leave me are fading, and I think we will be ok. 

I think everything will be ok 🙂

 

A collection of things

A few things:

– One month, 31 (or 30) days… until I’m off to Germany!!

That is scary stuff, scary and exciting!

– And today I got my laptop back, so I will be back to posting more and hopefully will see everyone’s posts as I am not relying on the WP app anymore (which seems not to put all posts on the reader!)

– I am still feeling quite motivated and happy(!) at the moment, despite…

– Last night I slept really badly because I kept having nightmares. They are not the usual really horrible type of nightmares, I can’t remember most of them, and a lot of them are just strange! (Like a dream featuring my house being full of cats!) After one last night, which I can’t really remember what happened but I know my family and I were in danger, I woke up with a racing heart, panicky. I have to confess I turned the light on and slept with the light on for a while because I was feeling very distressed and anxious (although I don’t quite know why.)

– And now I’m off to work!

Just a little post

Hi everyone,

I am back from my trip to Amsterdam which was lovely (more details to come soon in a dedicated post!)
Unfortunately my laptop is currently away being repaired so I can only get to wordpress from my iPad. I don’t mind reading blogs on here but I prefer writing my posts on a laptop really (not sure why) so this is just a short catch up post! My laptop should be back at the end of next week so then I can get back to my regular posts! But this week there might be a couple of posts if I can deal with using the iPad for it (the app does seem to have improved recently actually!)

Things are a bit wobbly over here… I’m fine but have been feeling very low for the last few days, with no real explanation. I think part of it is nerves about Germany, and then there is the “normal” ups and downs of depression anyway. I am going to see the doctor on Thursday but I doubt she can do anything – no time for therapy before Germany and I think I’m already on the max dosage of my medication… Hopefully my mood will lift soon. I was fine/good while I was away, and my mood always seems better when S is around (as pathetic as that is!) but everyone has ups and downs, so hopefully things will feel better soon.

This started off as a short post but now I’ve started I suddenly have lots to say!
The last few days I have spent most of the days in bed (not good!) but I managed to go climbing on Sunday which was fun (even if I’m still aching now, more than 2 days later!) Today after a morning in bed, I actually got a few things done – applied for my new passport and started the massive task of unpacking/tidying/clearing out my room… (Despite the fact I’ve been home for a month now, I had been putting it off!) it’s looking a lot better already and I know I will feel better with a tidy room!

There’s lots to do in the next few weeks before I leave for Germany… All very exciting and scary but I am really hoping this year is going to be good for me. S says he thinks it will help me as I will have to be more independent and I will see that I can do stuff by myself. A year off from exams will be lovely too!

Anyway that’s enough of my rambles I think… I feel as if I should change the title now as its a bit of a lie… But never mind.

Good night world,
Lots of love,

Ellie xxx

Why?

I just don’t get it.

Things are good, really good.

I got my first for this year, against all the odds. I got my summer job back so I will have some money. I’ve booked my flight to Germany and got accommodation sorted for the first few weeks, and I’ve even met a girl who will be in the same town. I am going on holiday with S next week (although we still haven’t actually booked it!) and this morning I received an email saying that I won a prize for my work in German this year.

So why do I still feel low?

I have everything right now, and I’m still not happy…

Do I just want too much? Do I just expect everything to be perfect?

But there is nothing wrong, nothing at all. So why do I want to hide in my bed? Why do I feel like crying? Why do I still have this inexplicable feeling of sadness, emptiness, pain…?

I know I am a lot better than I was. But before things were hard, I had some reasons. I guess I still have some reasons, but a lot of them are gone now – living away from home, exam stress, coursework stress, the massive fear of not doing well enough in my uni work… All of that is gone and yet I don’t feel better. At least the anxiety should be lower.. but it’s not. I am on edge, and I’ve bitten all my nails off (again.) 

To be perfectly honest, even reading that I got a first didn’t properly cheer me up. I was happy, surprised for a few minutes. And then I was like “oh well”. What is that?! I have worked so hard all year for that, I have worried myself for months, I have waited anxiously for my results, and then all I can say is “oh well”?!

Nothing I ever do will ever be good enough (for myself.)

Maybe I’m doomed to always be disappointed because perfection doesn’t exist, no matter how much I or anyone else strives for it.

I just want to be “normal”… I want to react to things in a normal way. I should be celebrating my achievements, I should be excited and looking forward to the future, but instead I’m feeling numb.

And I still haven’t unpacked… I’ve been home over 2 weeks (oops.)

Someone explain all this?

 

A good day

After last night’s minor melt down, today has been a much better day. Although this morning was still a bit wobbly*, and I was in a stress (couldn’t find things!)

I went into work and they have agreed to give me a few days off so I can go on holiday with S (Yay!) And we did some research, we are thinking of going to Prague! 🙂

Then I went climbing with S, and had my first attempt at lead climbing (where you climb up with the rope and clip it in as you go up rather than having a rope that comes down from the top) so that was exciting (and a little bit scary!) I definitely think climbing is good for trust in a relationship… you are putting your life (or at least your unbroken limbs!) in your partners hands!

I’ve also had further information about my arrival to Germany, so have started looking at flights… This is when it gets really real! I will be flying out there with one of my course mates, so at least I won’t be on my own!!

And my other bit of good news, which is probably quite boring to most people, is that I am (finally) back to the weight (very nearly anyway) that I was before the Mirtazapine! (6 months after stopping that medication!!)

Now it’s time for spaghetti and meatballs for dinner… yum!

*To borrow WeeGee’s word 😛

Not safe

*possible trigger warning – it gets pretty negative.*

Every so often I seem to have these little panics…

I’m not safe. Nothing is safe. No one can keep me safe.

I have got too close to S and it scares me. He could leave like the ex did. Not safe. I caught myself thinking I should get away from him (S), I need to leave before he leaves, then it’s my fault choice. But Ellie you tried that one… you ended it before and felt worse than ever. 

I think maybe it’s about control. I can’t control how I feel and how I would feel if he left. I can’t control whether he leaves or not (that’s why I feel like I should leave first, then I’d be in control). 

I don’t know what is going to happen when I move to Germany. I can’t control it, I can’t plan it all. It’s new and big and scary. New language, new place, new people… What if I can’t handle it?*

It’s happened again… this downwards spiral. It was about one thing, and now it’s about EVERYTHING.

I just want to be safe.

I feel so low and I don’t really know why. Maybe I’m just thinking too much (as usual). When I feel like this I wonder if the progress I’ve been making is even real. My thoughts scare me. I just want to be safe, or at least I want control. I want it all to stop, it’s all too much. I want to die. I’m not safe here, how do I carry on? Sometimes I really think it would be easier if I wasn’t alive.** And the urge to hurt myself, punish myself for all this is strong. But it doesn’t help. I know it doesn’t help so why do I want to do it? It doesn’t solve anything.

*I know I’m not allowed to say “what if”, but I did anyway.

**Please do not read into this too much – these are thoughts and not plans, I know these feelings/thoughts will pass. 

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.