The evolution of my depression

When I first got diagnosed with depression and anxiety, it was very much trauma related and I had flashbacks, nightmares, the whole shebang… (there were also mentions of PTSD from the Psych, which I am sure I did have). I was lost and depressed and I didn’t know who I was. My abusive relationship had taken my identity and confidence and buried them somewhere far far away. 

Fast forward over 6 years to today, I have dealt with a lot of the trauma. I still get triggered occasionally, but not multiple times a day like previously, and now I can walk down the street at home without being scared, and I can drive past the road sign that says the place name where he lived… all that “normal” stuff that used to be so hard and triggering for me. 

Now I have a different problem, my migraines and pain and fatigue have spiralled out of control. I wouldn’t say my depression ever completely went, but it was much more manageable, now I find a lot of my negative thoughts and depression and anxiety are around the pain/fatigue.

 I feel hopeless because I know that neither my migraines or fibro are curable (the consultants are aiming to help me reduce rather than cure the migraines, and to manage the pain and fatigue of fibro.)

Some days when the pain is bad or the migraines are bad and persistent, I find myself questioning the point of my life. Sometimes I feel like there’s no way I want to live like this for another 60+ years. 

My biggest fears are now that I won’t be able to do things. This week has been hard, it has taken everything I have to get to work and do my job, and it’s only Wednesday. It makes me wonder how long I will be able to work full time for? How long before I have to give up my dream of being a clinical psychologist (training, if I ever get into it, would be intense and fulltime – balancing placements, studies and research)? I am going on a really exciting trip next year with the scouts, and I am terrified that I won’t be able to actually go. The aim of the trip is to build a large structure so will involve a lot of physical activity and it is at altitude.

Clearly I am not feeling very positive today. Some days I do, most days I don’t. It is hard for me to accept the way that my conditions are affecting my life, and that they will always affect me. I always had the hope the one day I would overcome my anxiety and depression, but this is different, I know that this won’t go away. And actually even my psychiatrist said that we are working to manage my symptoms as I have chronic depression. Pretty crap.

Ok, negative post done. I am working on something more positive which I hope to post in early December – I am trying yoga this month. Also, I have a physio appointment tomorrow and they are going to give me an exercise plan for graded exercise therapy as treatment for fibro. I’m really hoping it will be helpful! Will probably write a post about it to keep you updated!

Love, 

Ellie xx

 

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The evolution of my depression

When I first got diagnosed with depression and anxiety, it was very much trauma related and I had flashbacks, nightmares, the whole shebang… (there were also mentions of PTSD from the Psych, which I am sure I did have). I was lost and depressed and I didn’t know who I was. My abusive relationship had taken my identity and confidence and buried them somewhere far far away. 

Fast forward over 6 years to today, I have dealt with a lot of the trauma. I still get triggered occasionally, but not multiple times a day like previously, and now I can walk down the street at home without being scared, and I can drive past the road sign that says the place name where he lived… all that “normal” stuff that used to be so hard and triggering for me. 

Now I have a different problem, my migraines and pain and fatigue have spiralled out of control. I wouldn’t say my depression ever completely went, but it was much more manageable, now I find a lot of my negative thoughts and depression and anxiety are around the pain/fatigue.

 I feel hopeless because I know that neither my migraines or fibro are curable (the consultants are aiming to help me reduce rather than cure the migraines, and to manage the pain and fatigue of fibro.)

Some days when the pain is bad or the migraines are bad and persistent, I find myself questioning the point of my life. Sometimes I feel like there’s no way I want to live like this for another 60+ years. 

My biggest fears are now that I won’t be able to do things. This week has been hard, it has taken everything I have to get to work and do my job, and it’s only Wednesday. It makes me wonder how long I will be able to work full time for? How long before I have to give up my dream of being a clinical psychologist (training, if I ever get into it, would be intense and fulltime – balancing placements, studies and research)? I am going on a really exciting trip next year with the scouts, and I am terrified that I won’t be able to actually go. The aim of the trip is to build a large structure so will involve a lot of physical activity and it is at altitude.

Clearly I am not feeling very positive today. Some days I do, most days I don’t. It is hard for me to accept the way that my conditions are affecting my life, and that they will always affect me. I always had the hope the one day I would overcome my anxiety and depression, but this is different, I know that this won’t go away. And actually even my psychiatrist said that we are working to manage my symptoms as I have chronic depression. Pretty crap.

Ok, negative post done. I am working on something more positive which I hope to post in early December – I am trying yoga this month. Also, I have a physio appointment tomorrow and they are going to give me an exercise plan for graded exercise therapy as treatment for fibro. I’m really hoping it will be helpful! Will probably write a post about it to keep you updated!

Love, 

Ellie xx

 

World mental health day

Today is world mental health day. It seemed wrong not to post today given that my blog is about mental health. I have been wondering for the last few days what to write today, but it’s getting late and no plans came to mind so I’ll just wing it –

It makes me incredibly sad that many people don’t seek help for their mental health because they are ashamed. It makes me sad that they don’t think their friends or family will support them (whether or not this belief is true – sadly it often is). You wouldn’t hesitate to go to the doctors about a physical condition, but for some reason it’s different if it’s psychological. Because people should just “man up”, “it’ll all be ok in the end, you’ll see” right? People should just “get over it” and “cheer up” right?

If only it were that simple. 

So if you’re reading this and you’re one of those people who is scared to speak out, I urge you to seek help. Getting treatment could lead to a much happier life and can prevent things getting worse, getting to crisis point. No matter how badly you think of yourself, you are worthy of help, you are great and you will get through this. And if you have some help to do it, that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Maybe it’s even brave to face up to our struggles, to ask for help!

And if you’re one of those people who thinks people should just “cheer up” and “get over it” then I urge you to do some research, find out about mental health. The research speaks for itself, mental health conditions do exist – they affect the brain chemistry, they have a massive impact on people’s lives and it’s not their fault. Try to understand what it must be like to struggle daily with mental health issues and then maybe you will see that we can’t just “cheer up”, it’s not that easy. 

Maybe you just don’t know what to say? That’s ok! Sometimes all that is needed is a listening ear, sometimes being here is enough. We don’t need all the answers, but we need to be taken seriously, we need someone to talk to, someone to do their best to understand. That is enough, there are experts for the rest of it, but you – the family member, the friend – YOU are who we need to support us when things are bad. 

And for those of you who are fighting your personal hell each day, keep going. Things can change, no matter how hard it seems. Seek help when you need it (whether professional or support from a friend/family). Take time to look after yourself, I am a big believer in self care. Sometimes you feel selfish and worthless, but you are not, you simply need to look after your mental health as you would your physical health. 

I challenge you all to do something to help… Raise awareness, post on Facebook or Twitter. Fight stigma by challenging people’s beliefs, by calling people out on jokes about mental health. Ask someone how they are (really mean it) and listen to their answer, be there as a listening ear instead of rushing off as usual. Text that friend that you haven’t heard from in a while, smile at the old lady you see at the bus stop. Do something nice because you can. The world needs more random acts of kindness. 

Together we will get through this, together we will fight stigma. 

Lots of love,

Ellie xx

Can’t have a rainbow without rain 

Feeling really low today. Not sure why, but I am. Sometimes nature gives you what you need, a reminder that things will be ok. A reminder that among all the shit we deal with daily, there’s still beauty in the world. A ray of hope. 

A double rainbow!


In case you can’t see the photo, there’s a double rainbow outside my window. One is really bright and the other is more faded on the left. This brought a smile to my face when I’m feeling bad. 

Love,

Ellie

P.s. Forgot to say – yesterday was world smile day! 😊 

Stress

Hi everyone,

I haven’t written anything for a while but I’ve still been reading other blogs. I have been pretty busy and pretty tired. I couldn’t find the words I wanted to write. There is a lot of change is underway at the moment. And it’s stressful. Anxiety is up, mood is down. Yuck!

Following my diagnosis of fibromyalgia, I decided that doing 2 part time jobs adding up to more than full time probably wasn’t a great thing to continue to do. I have been feeling for some time that it is not sustainable and I am heading for burnout. So the diagnosis was the kick up the butt I needed. That and the fact that extra hours came up at one job to allow me to go full time there. Is it a coincidence? Is it fate? I don’t know, but I made the decision to go “down” to full time. 

Leaving is going to be very hard. I have been at that work place for 2 years although I have had different roles in that time. I am stressed at the moment about the job, doing handovers, telling clients I am leaving. That is the worst. Almost enough to make me stay. 

But this time I said no. This time I put myself first, I put my health first. I am hoping this will help me manage better. Less hours and hopefully less stress can’t be a bad thing! I am also trying to be less busy generally and make more time for self care. More time for blogging too hopefully!

So take a leaf out of my book and do something for yourself. Look after yourself and your health! 

Love,

Ellie xxx

A positive thought 

Amongst all the terrible things that are going on lately, and the depression I am experiencing right now, there are still good people, glimmers of hope… 

While I was driving home today I saw two ladies, one elderly and one much younger (maybe her daughter?) walking in the pouring rain. The older lady was pushing a walker to keep her balance. The younger lady held an umbrella over the older lady to keep her dry as they walked. Not over both of them, just over the older lady. The younger lady was drenched but didn’t seem to mind, focused on keeping the older lady dry. 

‘That’s love’ I thought, as I saw this moment, I smiled as I drove on. Little things like this give me hope. There are still some good people, there are still things to smile about. 

Just thought I’d share some positivity!

Love 

Ellie xx

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 good day

Today has been a long day, but also a good day. Today is Thursday, which is the day I do some volunteering at a day centre for people with mental illnesses. I also agreed to work this evening in the supermarket where I work so it was going to be a long day! Started at 9:30 this morning and didn’t finish until 9 this evening (other than a couple of hours between in which I had a nap!)

The volunteering went well, today we went for a picnic in the park and the ladies seemed to enjoy it (and so did I.) I am really enjoying my work there, gaining greater insight into how different mental illnesses affect different people, and just chatting to lots of different people. They are such a lovely group of ladies, and even though they all have their own stories and have been through various difficult things, they are all kind, friendly and full of life. It makes me really happy to see how they support each other and it also makes me realise I need to take a more positive approach to things sometimes.

After a lovely afternoon in the sun with sandwiches and games, I popped home for a bit for a nap and to get changed for work. Then it was off to the supermarket where I seem to spend so many hours of my life. Tonight I was on tills which I usually hate, but it wasn’t too bad. I had lots of nice customers and not many rude customers and the time went by reasonably quickly – this is the sort of shift I need more of!

I realised again today that I am feeling much more like me at the moment, like I said the other day. I have come so far from where I was, and even though things can still be hard at times, I am determined that I am not going to let things get bad again, I’m fighting this with everything I have. I’m feeling quite motivated at the moment, especially because my volunteering has reassured me about my future career hopes – I want to work in mental health, as a clinical psychologist eventually. I know it will be a long journey and it’ll be hard, and I know I need to get myself fully well before I can do it, but I am determined that I will do it! – I can and I will!

Freedom!!/ Happy days!

Today I did my last psychology exam of the year – statistics!! And I actually think it went pretty well, so here’s hoping!! 

And I also got out of my exam, checked my emails and found that I have finally been allocated to a bundesland (region) in Germany for my year abroad!! I am off to Nordrhein Westfalen (Or North Rhine – Westphalia in English), but I don’t know where exactly yet! It’s all exciting though, and found out that one of my coursemates is in the same region which is great! 🙂

So today has been a good day!

I feel a sense of freedom now my exams are over (for now). But I actually have one more exam – my written German exam, at the end of May. But that’s a different sort of revision, and it feels less pointless because I can actually use what I learn rather than trying to cram a bunch of psychologists names into my brain and then forget them before learning another bunch for the next exam!

Today was the last psychology exam that I will do until after my year abroad… that’s nearly 2 years exam free!! 🙂

So now I am off to have some dinner, and later I’m going climbing with Owl, and I don’t have to feel guilty about not revising tonight because there’s no exam anytime soon!

Shall be back properly now and will probably have more to write about because my CBT sessions are starting up again on Monday!

Hope everyone had a happy Wednesday!

Lots of love,

Ellie xxx

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!