Realisations and pain

I feel so broken. I’ve come to lots of realisations this week about my behaviour and my relationship with S.

I took him from granted. I relied on him way too much, to the point that I can’t regulate my emotions myself. I can’t self soothe because I never had to. And that dependency was something I learned from my previous relationship, the ex really broke me down so I lost all my confidence and ability to look after myself. That’s a long time ago now but it still has its effects. He wanted me to be dependent on him because that’s how he controlled me. Unfortunately I transferred this dependency onto S and I never realised until this week how serious and negative that was.

It’s hard for me to know what to do now; I feel lost. I don’t have a very good sense of self (another thing to thank the ex for!) I find it hard to know who I am and I tend to define myself by my relationships (a daughter, a sister, previously – a girlfriend) and my job, because I don’t know how else to do it. So now one of my major identities is gone, lost.

Unfortunately I think it’s one of “those too little too late” moments or “you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone” type things. I would give anything to turn back time and deal with things differently, but I can’t so I am going to have to live with it and try and learn from it.

I know my faults – I am very emotional and not good at regulating emotions, I get angry and lose control of my temper, I overreact and I get carried away with my thoughts, making up explanations which are usually wildly wrong. I put myself down constantly and have no confidence, I rely on others for my happiness. I pushed S away, and yet pulled him back, over and over (my therapist described it as the “I hate you. Don’t leave me” phenomenon). And all of it makes sense given my history, but none of it is S’ fault. None of it can be changed by anyone but me.

There is so much work for me to do on myself. Work I was hoping to continue while in the relationship with S, but plans have changed and I’m on my own now to work it all out. I’m glad that I’m still having counselling as this is helpful. I need to work on myself so that I never end up in this ridiculous situation again.

Feeling quite reflective today. Now it’s time for bed.

Love, Ellie xx

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Mindfulness: update

If you’ve read my last post you will know things are pretty bad at the moment. They got worse actually, as my grandma is now in hospital.

I’m trying to focus on the positive and all that because moving around isn’t helping. I’ve been doing a lot of crying and getting dehydrated which leads to headaches so trying to drink more water!

Also, today I hit 50 days in a row of mindfulness! This is the longest streak I have ever done and I feel proud. I do it now because I want to, not just because I know it’s meant to be good for me.

I have a routine, every morning when I wake up, I press snooze on my sunrise alarm clock and then put a mindfulness meditation on. I usually only do about 5 minutes but I think it’s a good start to the day.

Sometimes I do another one in the evening, especially if my mind is full and won’t let me sleep. I also sometimes use it at other times if I am feeling particularly stressed or anxious, or having scary thoughts.

I’m pretty proud that despite the week I have had, I have still managed to keep up with my mindfulness. And for a few minutes I have peace and I don’t feel like the world has ended.

Take care everyone.

Love, Ellie xx

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

 

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

 

I can breathe 

This morning I woke up, I stayed at my boyfriend’s house last night. I woke up and said “I don’t feel anxious”, it was such a surprise that I had to say it! 

After he went to work I took my dog for a walk, my family are at a university open day as my brother is hopefully going next year so it was just me and the doggo. 

I took him to a lovely park that has a river and a wooded area. The colours are beautiful, I love autumn. It’s a bit windy, what with storm Brian on it’s way, so the leaves were blowing about and it was lovely. I walked through the woods while my dog ran around happily and I realised – I can breathe again. I felt at peace with the world, earphones in, leaves blowing about and not another soul around except me and doggo. 

I thought about taking photos because I wanted to capture the moment, but I realised I wanted to BE in the moment. Create the memory in my mind instead of on my phone, just take it all in. Besides, I don’t think a photo would’ve been able to get it quite right. 

It’s not a feeling I’ve experienced for a long time and it felt great. I don’t know how well I have explained the feeling or whether anyone else knows the feeling, but just wanted to share a positive post! (For a change!) 

I have a social event tonight so anxiety has reappeared a little bit, but it’s nowhere near how bad it has been for the last few weeks so I’m enjoying this time.

Hope everyone has a lovely weekend, don’t get blown away! 

Love,

Ellie xx

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

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 –

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