Things that help: bullet journal 

I have decided to write a few posts on things that help (me) to manage my mental health. I’m not saying they will help everyone/anyone else, but they help me and personally I find things that help one person often help at least some others! So I’m going to kick off this “things that help” series with… bullet journals! 


A friend told me about bullet  journaling back in January, I started mine in March. For a few months I stuck to it religiously, and it really helped. To be honest I think what actually helped was the fact that I put aside about half an hour each and every evening to write in it, make it look all pretty and generally spend time on something just for me. 

So what is a bullet journal? At its simplest it is a mixture between a to-do list, a planner and a diary. In that sense, it is useful to get yourself organised. But the main benefit to me is the therapeutic side of it. I have a lot of pages relating to wellbeing – a list of self care ideas, I tracked my mindfulness (another post on this to come!), my moods (although I lost track of this and haven’t filled it in since may… oops!), my migraines, my steps per day, and a bunch of other stuff. Then I have pages on trips I want to make, a bucket list (which I added recently), gratitude pages, my 100 happy days and lots more.

Self care ideas

Meditation tracker


The coolest thing about it is that you can do whatever you want with it. I have tried lots of different styles of weekly or monthly planner pages. I am not very good at using it as a planner I have discovered, but I do use it to set goals each month and then do a review at the end of the month. My bullet journal is very much for my mental health rather than organising my life (although I do use it for to do lists sometimes), but it can be either or both or something completely different. And what is great is that if I don’t use it for a month, it doesn’t matter – no wasted pages, I can just start up again when I feel the urge. It takes away the guilt for me, in a normal planner if I saw an empty month I would probably just avoid it for the rest of the year!

Monthly review and goals pages


My bullet journal is in a dot grid notebook which makes drawing lines and layouts super easy. I definitely like this style of notebook and will get a dot grid one again when I start a new one. Mine is A5 but I am considering A6 next time, maybe then I would take it out with me more and it would be more useful in organising my life! 
Here is a link to the orignal bullet journal for more info – http://bulletjournal.com/get-started/

And here’s a link to a post about using bullet journaling for mental health – https://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelwmiller/mental-health-bullet-journal?utm_term=.vtxWOdxo0#.swoL62y4A

 Bullet journals are a big craze right now so if you google, search YouTube or Pinterest loads of stuff will come up! People get really creative with them and some are really beautiful, some are more functional, and lots are somewhere in the middle. I enjoy making mine pretty but I’m not very artistic so mine is pretty in simple ways – I use washi tape (which is basically like masking tape with pretty patterns on – AMAZING for any stationary addict) and different coloured pens, and it makes me smile flicking back through and remembering things. 

Each month I pick some stuff to track such as journaling, reading, mindfulness, exercise etc and use a tracker. I’ve just set up my September goals and tracker pages – and yes, there are elephants! 🐘

September goals (so far)

Tracker for September


I hope this is useful/interesting! I may do more posts on bullet journals in the future. If there’s anything you’d like to know about my bullet journaling, let me know in the comments 😊

Love,

Ellie xx

P.s a thought to leave you with –

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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. 

A bit of a moan 

Feeling a bit sorry for myself today. Not only am I achy and tired as hell, but I have ANOTHER cold. The last one I had lasted nearly 4 weeks and that was less than 2 weeks ago that it finally went… my immune system is rubbish and I get every illness going, very frustrating! I really can’t afford to be ill this week as I am off on a 4 day hike on Friday! (Something else I am worried about given the tiredness and achiness! But it has been planned for ages so I can’t let people down) 

I am feeling pretty run down and it’s only Monday. Woke up this morning with a sore throat, cough and a cold… it all appeared in the night! Damn it immune system, you’re meant to stay awake! 

It’s not yet 9pm and since I finished work I did have a nap, but I’m off to bed now. Hoping to sleep it off! Cue the lemsip! 

Hopefully I will be back with a more positive post sometime soon, but today I just wanted a bit of a moan. 

Love,

Ellie xx

My hospital appointment 

After ages of trying to convince the GP there is something wrong, a couple of months waiting for a triage appointment and then months of waiting to see the specialist, I finally had my hospital appointment on Tuesday. 

I was anxious as hell. Didn’t sleep well the night before. I was a bundle of nerves. I was wondering what they would say. Would they give me the diagnosis I was expecting and dreading? Would they say oh there’s this test we haven’t done yet, followed by more waiting? Would they say “pull yourself together woman, there’s nothing wrong!”? (Ok I never thought they would say it like that but you know what I mean!) or would it be another red herring like the triage appointment, where I thought it was with the specialist and it turned out to be triage?

I went to the appointment and the doctor was actually very nice. He asked me a whole load of questions, I answered them. Some of them I had answered before at the triage appointment, some were new. Anyway, he listened and wrote down notes. Then he did a physical examination including some prodding which actually really hurt! And then he started talking about treatments, he said they have a CBT group for people with fibromyalgia. I stopped him there and said “so is that what you think it is?” Because he hadn’t said so at that point. 

He said yes, that’s what the diagnosis is. We can call it chronic fatigue syndrome or we can call it fibromyalgia but the treatments are the same for both and he is not too bothered about the diagnosis, more about the individual and the treatment. That was kind of nice to hear and it stopped me from overthinking the diagnosis at the time… I have fibromyalgia. 

So the next thing is to see the CBT therapist that specialises in chronic pain/fatigue conditions and see the physio for an exercise plan. He did not think a half marathon was a good idea, damn – I’m meant to be doing one in spring! 

In one way it was a relief. I have suspected for some time that I might have fibromyalgia but now I have a diagnosis. I am sad that he couldn’t say “oo actually you’re deficient in vitamin X, take this and all your symptoms will go away”, but that was never going to happen. Now I know that there’s a name for what I am experiencing and it is a real condition, this is not just me, and it’s not just in my head. That validates me a little. 

And there’s the other side.. being diagnosed with a condition that I know there is currently no cure for. A chronic health condition which may or may not get worse over time. I need to be careful not to use it as an excuse not to do things, and also be aware of my limits… a fine balance. 

Anyway I am off to sleep now. I’m sure I’ll write on this topic again pretty soon, but wanted to write an update and get it all out of my head. 

Love,

Ellie xxx

Feeling alive! 

I haven’t written in a little while. I was in two minds about which post to publish today. It has been an interesting couple of days. I have decided to go with the shorter and more positive post today so I have more time to get the other one how I want it. 

So today I jumped out of a plane! It was my first sky dive. I was worried about getting panicky once we were in the plane or not being able to do it but I did it and it was amazing. It’s hard to put into words the feeling, but I really felt alive and that was a great feeling! I felt real and alive and connected and in awe of the beautiful views and the fact that I was thousands of feet up in the air essentially dangling from a parachute. It was so cool, and the nice thing is that S (my boyfriend) skydived too, he went just before me but we were in the same plane. It was a great experience to share, and we both decided a hot drink was needed afterwards from all the adrenaline!

Obviously it was a tandem jump so the instructor did everything, so really there was no jumping involved. I just got told to adopt a specific position (head back, hands on the shoulder straps, feet tucked behind) and suddenly, woosh, we are in free fall!

It was an amazing experience and I’m so glad I decided to do it, definitely one to tick off my bucket list! I feel proud that I did it and I didn’t let anxiety stop me! 

After today it’s made me realise there are loads of things like that that I would love to do one day, so tomorrow (I have booked another day off work to relax – proud of myself!) I am going to write a bucket list 😊

Have you ever skydived? What’s on your bucket list? I might share mine once I’ve written it!

Love,

Ellie xx

Stress

Feeling very stressed and like I’m not coping at the moment. This is not how you are meant to feel after a holiday… 

I can tell I am not very well mentally at the moment because I am struggling to manage my stress, even at work. Usually at work I can separate it from everything and just do my job and worry about everything else later. This week I felt like I got in a flap about things I would normally deal with fine. 

My anxiety is pretty high and my sleep isn’t good (a crying doggo with a poorly tummy at 4am doesn’t help! – not that it’s his fault!) 

I want to be positive but right now it’s hard. I have a few plans over the weekend and that is stressing me out. I wanted a weekend to do nothing but I have too much to do. All nice things but somehow it doesn’t feel nice, it feels like pressure. 

Off to bed, TGIF tomorrow!

Love, Ellie xx

Worry

Worry

Worry about worrying 

Worry about migraines 

Worry about having forgotten something. 

I am currently on my way to Scotland to go camping with the scouts for a week and it is likely that this anxiety will continue until I arrive and have set up my tent. 10ish hours to go…

Anxiety is irrational, I know that. Trying to explain it to someone that doesn’t understand is impossible, they don’t get it. They say it doesn’t matter, if you forget something they do have shops in Scotland. But it’s not really about that. It’s just constant worrying about anything and everything. I guess that’s why it’s called generalised anxiety disorder.

On a more positive note, I am hoping being in nature will be good for me, a week to chill and not think about work. And bonus, I get my own tent this year! 

I love the sound of rain on the tent (as long as it stays outside the tent!) and it’s Scotland, so rain is inevitable. I will be doing my mindfulness there too, already done some on the coach (trying to drown out the shouting/singing of lots of teenagers!)

Love,

Ellie xx

Progress 

I did a talk for another organisation this afternoon. I got really anxious even though it was informal and I know my own service.. I panicked and I don’t think they were impressed. 

Feeling pretty embarrassed as I know I didn’t seem very professional and they probably judged me. I am not a good public speaker at the best of times but today was not my best day. I hope they don’t judge my service by my talk. There was a snooty woman that made me nervous and that didn’t help! 

BUT and it’s a big but…

The world has not ended. I have not spontaneously combusted. Life goes on and so does my day. This is a revelation. My fear of failure would have had me in tears, full on panic attack mode. But although I feel a bit disappointed that I didn’t perform at my best, I feel ok. And that’s good. 

Progress!!

Love 

Ellie xx

Health 

Thought I would fill you in with my current health situation – I have some kind of fatigue problem. Also a lot of aching and pain. The doctors are investigating to try and find out what it is

Currently they are wondering if it is fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome (ME). It’s all a bit scary because I know both are chronic so unlikely to get a full recovery. 

My mum has fibromyalgia and I see a lot of the same symptoms in me. It’s scary. I feel that I am too young, but that’s not how it works. It’s indiscriminate just like depression…

My appointment at the hospital is in August. I’m glad they are finally taking me seriously. It has taken a long time to get a referral. 

Part of me wants to know what’s wrong. Part of me is scared of what the diagnosis might be. 

Just a waiting game now

. I am also suffering from a lot of migraines but that’s a separate story. I am on the 18 month waiting list for the next treatment as none of the medications have helped. 

I feel like my body is against me. I am trying to get on with my life and work on my anxiety and depression, but when I am in pain it’s hard not to feel low. 

Love

Ellie xxx

Fatigue 

Heavy limbs

Droopy eyes

Aching neck, shoulders, arms, legs, feet

Complete exhaustion

Disconnected

Pain 

Everything feels like lead, heavy and useless

So tired

Longing for glorious sleep 

But it doesn’t matter 

I wake up

One o’clock

Three o’clock

Four o’clock

And it goes on

And then I wake up and do it all again 

Struggling with my fatigue and aches at the moment. Really affecting my mood and ability to do things properly 

Let’s hope for better sleep tonight!

Love,

Ellie xx