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

Identity

People say the year abroad is “the best year of your life” and the time to “find yourself”. I never thought any of that was true, but I feel like I’m coming on leaps and bounds already and I’ve only been here a month. I’ve had a few crucial realisations. And the latest one is that I need to have my own identity, I need to be myself and be ok with that.

But I’m in a position where I don’t really know who I am. I don’t have many defining features and naturally I look for labels to define myself by. But I don’t have to live by these labels, I can be myself, and that’s exactly what I want to be. If I can be myself, as I am – flaws and all, and be ok with that, then maybe that’s what happiness is. I’m a long way from that, but it’s a goal, it’s something to aim for and it’s a realisation.

I felt stuck for so long and I didn’t know why, but somehow today it came to me. Maybe it’s the hours sitting on a train, or the listening to music that brings back memories, I don’t know. But I realised that I need to take back my life. Because I need my own identity, and the ex took it away, all those years ago and I never knew how to find it.

As a teenager, that’s when people develop into who they really are. They develop a sense of identity, and in an ideal world, they are comfortable with who they are (whoever that turns out to be.) But it wasn’t like that for me, because I had who I was, and then I was taught that I was being me “wrong”, and everything that made me, me disappeared.

I used to be a scout, I used to play the clarinet, sing in the choir, I used to have lots of friends at school. And systematically they disappeared. First I left scouts, I said I didn’t like it anymore. That’s not true, it’s more that the ex made me feel like I had to leave, he always said it’s pathetic and I should act more like a girl. So I left. I started losing friends too because I was spending more time with the ex, because he made me feel bad if I spent any time with anyone else. He made me feel like it was my choice, that my friends weren’t real friends, that he cared about me and no one else did. And then it got to the end of year 11, and the school wouldn’t let him go back for 6th form. This could have been, should have been my great escape, but it wasn’t.

I left too. He made me feel like I had to, he made me feel like it was my choice. He manipulated my insecurities and planted the thought that I wasn’t happy at the school. It’s true of course that the school was high pressure and that I never felt good enough, but I wouldn’t have left if it wasn’t for him. But we wouldn’t be able to see each other he said, and did I really want to throw away our relationship over this? And so went my other activities – no more clarinet, band or choir, they didn’t have them at the college. So now I was at college where I didn’t know anyone, except him. I thought we’d make friends, we would have a group of friends together and it would be nice (before we both had our own sets of friends that didn’t mix) but it wasn’t really like that. We went to our lessons, and that was about it. We didn’t socialise that much, and for most lessons we were together. I even recall him bullying me into skipping lessons (the one that I wasn’t in his class for) to spend time with him.

So then I was his girlfriend. That was it. My sense of identity relied totally on him. And that was the reality of it – without him, I was nothing. Without him, I had nothing and no one. And the worst thing is I didn’t even realise he had done this. I didn’t realise that it wasn’t normal for a relationship to completely take over your life, I didn’t notice all these things disappearing from my life because it was all slow, subtle, and it was never his idea – always mine. But he guilt tripped me constantly, manipulated my decisions so that actually they were his decisions coming from my mouth.

I wasn’t me anymore and I was stuck because I knew without him I was nothing. So I stayed, even though I know I shouldn’t have. But it was me making all these mistakes, me always in the wrong, and he was so kind – always forgiving me. That’s what it seemed like anyway, but in retrospect I got it so wrong. How could it be his fault when it was my decisions, my ideas? But they weren’t, I was just a puppet.

It’s all clear to me now. I feel stupid, embarrassed for the way I acted. I let him use me like that and manipulate me into doing whatever he wanted. I did things to impress him, agreed to doing things I didn’t want to do because I wanted to keep him happy, because I thought it’s what I had to do. But I was wrong, so wrong. And I wish I could stop it happening to other people too, because some people don’t get out, ever, some people have their whole lives taken from them in this way.

I was just lucky that he had enough of me and decided to move on, to try again with another girl. And he did, at first he was lovely, not a foot wrong, and then over time it happened again, he got controlling, manipulative, angry. And she left, the clever girl.

I just feel a weight lifted off my shoulders because I have the whole of my life to live now, and I can live it how I want. So the next step is working out who I am now, and making myself into someone I want to be, not for anyone else, but just for me. I realised I can be me without other people, I don’t need to let these labels – girlfriend, daughter, sister, friend, student, blogger etc. define me, because people are more than labels, they are people with identities of their own.

Finally caught up!

Ellie is finally back up to date with blog reading!! I managed to get nearly 2 weeks behind at some point and I didn’t want to miss any out, so what better to do on a Friday evening than read lots of blog posts? And then I thought I haven’t posted in a while either – I really want to sort this out!

I’m approaching 2 weeks since I arrived in Germany now and things are still going reasonably well. At times I miss home, S, friends etc. and at times all the new and different things can be overwhelming, particularly trying to understand and make myself understood in German, but all in all I’m ok, things are good.

But although I am a lot better than I was months ago, I know that I still need to look after myself. So tomorrow, I am finally going to start the mindfulness book which I bought a while ago. I plan to do it everyday (or as much as I can anyway) because I really do think the mindfulness helped me when I was doing it with A.

(Although actually, having said that, I’m going away from Monday – Friday so I won’t be able to write or do my mindfulness then!)

I feel like I don’t have much to say/write anymore and I don’t know why. Maybe I’m just tired from all of these early mornings, or maybe it’s because there’s so much in my head that it’s all jumbled up and I don’t know how to make sense of it all.

This is turning into a strange rambling post so it’s probably time to stop writing soon. Maybe I will try to do some creative writing over the weekend while I have time – maybe a poem or something.

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 🙂

 

Dependent

I hate being dependent on other people. Especially S.

Because he could leave (like the ex did.) That’s why you should never let anyone be everything to you. But it’s hard not to rely on him.

I hate how my happiness relies on him. When I’m with S I am generally much happier. It’s when I’m on my own I feel down. And I overanalyse every little thing. Why do I do it to myself? I’m torturing myself over things I can’t change. Things that are said and done, it’s too late to change them.

And things that he doesn’t even care about but I do. I feel fat, and I hate it. But I’m scared of starting exercise again like before because it’s addictive, like not eating – addictive and not good. 

I haven’t been blogging that much recently. Too busy. Life just gets in the way. But I still need time for myself. I’m going to try and set aside some time each day for myself. To reflect on how things are, to write my blog, to do some mindfulness stuff (because I haven’t done any of it in ages, and it was helping I think.)

Sometimes I think I do too much and I don’t allow myself enough time to just be. On Monday I had a day to do nothing. I slept until about 1, then pottered around doing not much – reading blogs, watching TV. But it was nice, just sometimes it’s nice to do nothing. Nothing that matters anyway. I’m always in such a rush all the time, maybe I should take a step back and try to relax a bit.

This post got a bit more reflective than I expected. Just a quick one before bed. To get some thoughts out of my mind. This one is like a mental stream (MMS you should be proud!)

I just want to stop for a bit. I wish I could pause the world, like in Bernard’s watch (did anyone watch that?) And then I could just take some time, with nothing going on. Wouldn’t it be nice?

But relaxing has always been difficult for me, that’s something I need to learn to do. A was right – I can’t give 100% all the time, it’s too exhausting. I need to relax too, and take some time for me – not to work or volunteer or even socialise, just to unwind.

Hopefully my holiday will help me relax a bit. On Monday I am off to Amsterdam (not Prague as originally planned) so I’m sure I will have an Amsterdam-related post at the end of next week!

As you might be able to tell, my mind is a bit of a jumble at the moment, if you managed to follow this post and its changing topics – well done!

Lots of love,

Ellie xxx

One step at a time

Sometimes I need to remember that it’s ok to take little steps. Recovery does not happen overnight, even small amounts of progress take time. I am one of those people who wants to achieve everything straight away. But I can’t. (Because no one can!)

Take climbing as an example. I have learnt in the couple of months that I have been climbing for, that progress takes time and that little improvements are good. Yesterday I went climbing, I tried a route I hadn’t done before and couldn’t do it, and I tried one that I had tried before and still couldn’t do it. I was talking to S and saying that I felt like I was getting worse at climbing (instead of improving) and  it had been a very unsuccessful climb, and that I only got a little bit further on the one I couldn’t do before so I was disappointed. He said, but you got further than last time, so surely that’s progress and not getting worse!? And he’s right. I know he is, but until he said it, it didn’t register in my mind in that way. Maybe I’m just too used to putting myself down.

And when it comes to recovery it’s the same. I feel frustrated and disappointed that I don’t magically feel better yet. I have tried to put a time limit on it (as in, I must be better before I go to Germany) but that isn’t a realistic goal. Yes, I am a lot better than I was, and I hope to make more progress before I go to Germany, but the chances are I’m still going to have some problems. These things don’t go away overnight, especially when it’s complicated and it has been building up for a long time.

I asked A whether the psychiatrist had actually diagnosed me with PTSD. I guess a part of me still feels that I don’t have it, how could I? My experiences weren’t bad enough… But what does that even mean? Who is anyone to say what events and experiences are and aren’t traumatic enough. I feel like I am a fake, that I’m being a drama queen and making a fuss out of nothing. And at the same time I know that this stuff did happen and did affect me. Maybe I just want some validation in the form of a diagnosis. If a doctor says it then it must be true. Don’t even get me started on the flaws in that, talk about irrational! Anyway, A said she will try and get me a copy of the letter that the psychiatrist wrote, and she said that when I’ve filled in the impacts of events scale (which is a questionnaire that they use to diagnose PTSD) my scores definitely indicate that I have it.

I want to stop the past from affecting my future. Most of the time I manage to fight against things – do things even though they scare me, try and succeed even though my thoughts tell me I’ll fail (because of the past). But when it comes to relationship stuff I’m a mess. It’s probably not surprising, given that my relationship with the ex was not only a long one (nearly 3 years) but also my first relationship. And so I find it hard to trust. I’m scared, terrified that S is going to cheat on me, and even more than that I am scared that he is going to leave me. He tells me that he’s not going anywhere, that I should trust him, that I am just pushing him away. I asked him not to let me [push him away], and he said it’s hard because even though we’ve been together a year and a half and he’s never given me a reason not to trust him, I’m still convinced something will go wrong…

So this is a reminder for me and anyone else with this tendency to forget to take things one step at a time… Progress is slow and it takes time but it will happen!

Lots of love,

Ellie xx

Self destruct

I seem to have hit the self-destruct button recently. I don’t know why, I don’t know what’s wrong.

It’s like I’m trying to argue, I’m trying to get him to “prove” me right, that I’m not good enough, that I’m unlovable.

I know I am so lucky to have someone who is always there for me and isn’t scared away with my crazy irrational behaviour.

I’m on the train at the moment, will be into London in about 40 minutes. And I don’t really know what I’m feeling right now. I want to see him and at the same time I don’t. I want to tell him to leave me alone and find someone else, and at the same time I want him to hold me and love me.

Such is my fear of being abandoned/left that I am (again) thinking of running away from it. Maybe so I can be in control? Who knows what goes on in this bonkers brain of mine!

I don’t want us to split up, life would be incredibly rubbish without S. But I’m so scared and It’s making me strange. Hopefully it’ll feel better when I see him.

Hope everyone is having a lovely sunny Thursday!

Lots of love,
Ellie xxx

One of those days

It’s been one of those days – unproductive, tiring and frustrating.

Today was a revision day. I have an exam on Tuesday and Wednesday. These 2 exams contain the most content out of all of my exams this year, and well done uni…they are on consecutive days.

This morning wasn’t too bad – got through a lot of statistics and I now have notes for all of that module – And better than that, I even understand most of it. The stats exam is on Wednesday. 

Then this afternoon it was onto social psychology. I find that module really interesting, and it was a lent term module so it wasn’t learned that long ago, I thought that would make revision ok, but I was wrong. Owl (friend from uni) came over and we were working together all afternoon and evening. She arrived at about 2:15 and didn’t leave until 9:15, we had about an hour break for dinner and were working solidly except that. But… we only got through one lecture. In 6 hours. So unproductive. My brain hurts, I don’t understand any of it and my concentration levels are shocking. 

Maybe I tried to do too much in one day. But that’s the only option. Today was one of those afternoons when you stop, put your hands up and say – right, it’s not working, I’ll write today off and try again tomorrow. But you can’t do that when the exam is the day after tomorrow. There is no more time. 

So now I’m stressed. STILL don’t know anything about social psychology and I have to learn the rest of the module tomorrow. Plus they want extra reading to include in the essay… are they crazy?! 

The stress is all building up and now I have a headache. I’m starting to panic and I don’t know any way round this. Tomorrow HAS to be a productive day, I have no choice. But the more pressure there is the more stressed I will be.

I need to calm down but I can’t. I really wanted to do well on this exam, I thought it was my best chance at a decent grade in these exams (except stats) and now I guess I’ll be lucky to scape a pass.

But to me there’s no point in passing a module if it’s not a 2:1 or first. A 2:2 or third is no good to me, so it may as well be a fail*.

I know I’m stressing myself out more by worrying, but that’s what Ellies do best – worry.

So I’m giving up for tonight. I want to give up entirely, but I can’t. I feel like in everything I do I have to do well, I have to prove I’m not a failure. I don’t know who I’m proving it to. Is it to the ex who made me feel like I’m not good enough? Is it to my parents who always push me to do well? Is it to S to prove I’m not nothing? Or is it to myself? because I see myself as a failure and all I’ve ever had to prove myself wrong on that is academic success.

Causal bit of self analysis there…

Anyway, I’m going to sleep and hoping to wake up with a bright and attentive brain, ready to learn all of the information in the world**.

Lots of love,

Ellie xxx

*I know this is not actually true, blame my perfectionist tendencies. And what I really mean by this is that I can’t go into clinical psychology with less than a (high) 2:1.

**I feel this is only a minor exaggeration.