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

Happy

I think this is what happy feels like.

It sneaks up on you, much like depression, and then BAM, you realise that you’ve actually got to the point that you genuinely feel happy. Not “not bad”, not “ok” but happy, actually happy.

Today not even the fact that Deutsche Bahn (German train company) are completely USELESS can bring me down today.

I was so worried about doing this year abroad, and it’s turned out to be the best thing I’ve ever done for me. I feel free here and I love it. I have a job but I like it and it’s not many hours. I am free to travel around Germany (and off to Copenhagen at the weekend) and I don’t feel stressed for the first time in I don’t know how long.

I know that I won’t always feel happy (that would be too good to be true), but that is ok. Because normal people have good days and bad days, so one bad day doesn’t mean it’s all going wrong again, just like one good day doesn’t mean everything is fixed. I am well aware of the many issues that are still under the surface, and the concoction of drugs I’m on that are helping me feel better. I know that it’s not over, I don’t know if “completely recovered” even exists, but I am doing so much better and I feel like me again.

This overly happy and cheerful post will undoubtedly be followed by a “oh wait things aren’t that great” post, but for now – I’m going to enjoy being happy, and being me (or continuing to find out who I am)

Much love,

Ellie xxx

Feeling thoughtful

I came to realise that I am generally a very positive person, except when it’s about me.

I am always there to try and cheer people up, and looking at the positive side of things when it’s about someone else. But when it comes to me, it’s so different… I’m much more negative.

I am always putting myself down – I’m not good enough, no clever enough, not anything enough. But I never judge others by these standards. It’s like I have one set of expectations for others, and another, impossible set for myself. And I know I can never live up to my own expectations, it’s physically impossible. It’s the perfectionism, and I know it is there, I recognise that I set my standards too high, and yet I can’t seem to let them slide even a bit.  Why not? Why can’t I be happy with being average? Why can’t I be happy being me?

I would love to be able to look at myself in the mirror (both actually and figuratively) one day and be happy with what I see. I don’t know if that will ever happen, but I guess that’s my aim. I don’t want to be perfect, even if it were possible, I just want to be happy and comfortable with who I am. Sadly, that seems to be a distant dream and to tell the truth I can’t imagine ever being satisfied with who I am.

There is always something that I have done wrong. (In my mind.)

When am I going to stop punishing myself for the past? And even things I haven’t done?

They say you have to learn to love yourself before you can be truly happy.

What if I was someone else, and I saw myself. I wonder how I would judge that person, I wonder if I would still think that she (I) wasn’t good enough. What would you think if you saw yourself from someone else’s perspective?

My brain is full of these thoughts and questions tonight,

Good night!

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.

Progress

So I finally realised that even though S makes me happy, it’s ok and good to be happy without him. Like an epiphany. Other people have probably known this for a long time, but it’s one of those things you need to realise yourself. I need to be happy myself because I can’t always rely on him to be there. This year (year abroad) I have so many opportunities and I really need to take them, and just enjoy the year. I can still be me without him.

I think I never really got that because when I was with the ex he made it so he was all I had. And it was suffocating and controlling but I didn’t know it wasn’t normal. I don’t want to be “S’s girlfriend” I want to be Ellie, who is also S’s girlfriend, and a friend, and a student, and a climber and and and…. And now I’m allowed, and I’m going to allow myself to be me.

Be me

There are so many things that I want to do and be,
But more than any of them, I just want to be me.

I wish for a day when I could look at myself in a mirror
Without wishing I was different – taller, thinner,

Perfectionism is so tiring, I want to stop and rest,
But I won’t allow myself; I have to do my best.

I wish for a day when my best is good enough for me,
Perfection isn’t necessary, one day I will see,
If that day arrived I finally would be free,
And then I could truly let myself be me.

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

A realisation

As you might have read yesterday, I was not feeling like doing anything. Hiding felt like the best option. I went to CBT, and I’m glad I did. But still, when it got to the evening, I really didn’t want to go out.

It was raining, and people were dropping out left, right and centre, but I didn’t want to let my friend (Pres) down. Other people told me “If you don’t want to go just don’t go”, and that kind of makes sense. But I’d feel really bad – I had told Pres I was going, and helped her organise it, I couldn’t just not go! So I went.

On the way there I was thinking: Why are people so selfish? Why do people think it’s ok to let people down? Why don’t people seem to have any loyalty? And then I thought: Am I just too nice? Should I only do the things I want to do and screw other people’s feelings?

And then I thought: No, because that wouldn’t be me. 

(A lot of thinking went on in this 10 minute walk!)

But I came to the realisation that maybe I am “too nice”, and that means that sometimes I do things I don’t really want to do but I do it for other people. And sometimes it means that people take advantage of me, and I can get hurt easily (because it turns out that most people don’t do what I do.) BUT that’s just who I am. I care (sometimes too much) about other people, and I am very loyal. If I say I am going to do something, I will do it (unless there is a very good reason!) And even though I’m not “popular”, I have friends and sometimes people appreciate the fact that I’m always there. I remembered my birthday, which was in the middle of exams season… and so many people came. I was pretty surprised actually because I always think that people don’t care or notice me as much as I care for them, but people came to celebrate my birthday with me and it was great.

So, what I am saying here is that I have realised that it’s ok to be nice. And it’s ok to be me.

I realise this post may sound a bit strange. I am saying that I am a nice person, that might come across as arrogant or self-centred, but that’s not the way I mean it. I have always seen my caringness and willingness to help other people as a negative thing – and they do always say “being nice never gets you anywhere”, but I’m realising that’s not true. And so for once, I am going to be content to be me.

So what do you think? Is it good or bad to be “nice”? Is it good or bad to do things for other people? Is it possible to be too nice? I can see it from both perspectives now, but I can’t change such a central part of my personality, I just wouldn’t be me anymore.

And just as an end note, for my next post I am planning to compile a list of positive quotes, phrases and mantras, if anyone has any they want to add, feel free to comment (or email: anxiouselephant@hotmail.com) and I will of course give credit to the right people 🙂

Lots of love,

Ellie xxx

P.S. I forgot to mention – I actually had quite a good night in the end. There weren’t that many of us (about 10 when we expected around 30!) but it was nice to chat and dance together. In the club I got a bit panicky at some points – sometimes the loud music, the lights, the people and the smoke get too much. But I went outside for a few minutes and took some deep breaths. I even used a bit of mindfulness, focusing on the present moment. I said to myself – I am here, I am safe, nothing bad is going to happen. And it actually worked! – A would be proud! So even though I didn’t feel like going out at all, it was actually alright.

It can happen to anyone

**Trigger warning – suicide**

Mental illness can spring at any time, it can get anyone.

Recently, Stephen Fry, who has bipolar disorder, has spoken about a suicide attempt in 2012. Here is the link to the video where he speak about it.  He explains that there is no “why”, no reason, and just because someone “has it all” doesn’t mean they can’t be suicidal. As the president of Mind charity, I think it was really brave and good of him to speak out about this. Being suicidal is something that happens to a lot of people. There is not generally much awareness about this or mental illness more generally, and that does need to change. Frankie Sandford (a member of the band The Saturdays) is another celebrity affected by mental illness, here in the form of depression. This year she has become an ambassador for Mind, and earlier in the year her story appeared in some of the magazines (eg Cosmo, Glamour) to raise awareness of depression and how it is an illness like any other.

It feels very strange that a few years ago I didn’t know anything about mental illness/depression specifically, and yet in the last 5 years, my mum, myself, my best friend and a lot of other people I know have been affected by it. I used to live in a world where (I thought) everyone was pretty happy, strange how much that has changed in the last 5 years or so. And the more I know about it, the more I think that I probably have had some form of mild depression for quite a few years, probably at least from the age of 14, and based on a couple of memories, maybe even in primary school.

I got a text from my best friend (Artist) saying she’s going to drop out of uni because she’s been really depressed for months. I feel like the worst friend ever, I had no idea. She told me uni was much better this year and it seemed like she was happy. I should’ve seen it, I should’ve been there for her. I’m pretty shocked to be honest. She’s one of the ones who I always thought, do you know what, if I was as happy as her I’d be living the good life. She is always so sociable and seems happy, confident too. But this is a stark reminder that it can happen to anyone, anytime.

I feel really bad, I wish I’d been there for her more. I feel like such a bad friend. We are at opposite ends of the country when we are at uni, me in the North and her in Cornwall. It is difficult to stay in touch properly, but this really made me think… Don’t forget your friends, they might need you.

 

Fragments of who I am

I’m sick of being the weak one.

I always was. I still am.

I was that kid that always cried in school. The one that was over-sensitive. I learned that I was worth nothing and that was reinforced over and over. I’ll never be good enough for any of you will I?

And they wonder why I have no self-esteem, they wonder why I doubt myself so much.

I wonder whether I was depressed as a child. I can remember going to help out in reception at lunchtime sometimes, because I wanted to get away from the ones who always teased me. But it’s just teasing right?

And people always choose other people over me. I’m sick of being second best. Not even second best, the last alternative.

Feeling pretty low today. Because sitting here and moaning is really going to help me pass my German exam… 

Failure. Disappointment. Lonely. Lost. Scared. Pathetic. Hurt. Anxious. Sad. Broken. Weak. Useless. Fake. Nothing. That’s me.

(Sorry about the fragmented post. It doesn’t make sense)