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

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Memories and places

I know I am rubbish at keeping up with blogging now. I have too much going on so maybe I should just stop altogether. But today I have something to say, so I’ll say it.

It’s strange how memories can have such a strong hold.

Sometimes when I walk down a certain road, or I’m in a certain place I get flashbacks, just because of the place.

But in Germany I don’t. In Germany I rarely have flashbacks at all, because there are no places to associate with bad memories here. Here I feel safe, I don’t have to be completely on guard all the time. It’s strange but moving away has been the most liberating thing. And now I don’t want to go back to my old life (but I will have to.)

At Christmas when I was feeling worse again I realised it has to be to do with the place. Even as I was on the train from the airport in Germany, I felt more relaxed than I had at home. It’s such a contradiction: the place where my whole life is, where my family, boyfriend and many of my friends are, is also the place where I feel the worst. Best and worst. It’s like an oxymoron.

I am making the most of feeling free here, feeling happy. But at the same time I’m scared, scared of what happens when I go back. Will it open everything up again? I’m too tired to fight it all again, I just want to live my life and leave those memories behind.

I need to make home safe again in my mind. Or maybe I need to move away as soon as I can. (But does running away really help? Sometimes it does…)

No words

I want to write but I don’t know what to write. I am feeling very low, on edge. It’s like being in limbo. S is coming to Germany tomorrow so we’ll see what happens. Random memories pop into my mind. LEAVE ME ALONE. There’s so much to say but there’s no words.

So instead I’ll post a video of something else I have “no words” for (even if it’s in a completely different way.)

All I have to say about that is WHAT?!

Stuck in the past

I know I’m stuck in the past. I know it’s over now. I know I should leave it behind me. I know it’s not helpful. I know all of that.

But I can’t.

I can’t control my dreams or the flashbacks. I can’t choose where my mind wanders off to. I can’t make myself forget all of the past. I can’t just get over it.

Just because I’ve been much better over the last few months doesn’t mean I’m not still ill. It doesn’t mean all of this has gone away. It doesn’t mean I can suddenly trust people and put everything from the past away.

I’m stuck and I don’t know how to move forward.

Freedom

It’s nearly 2 and a half years since my relationship with the ex ended, yet I still didn’t feel free from him for a long time. Sometimes even now I don’t.

I felt like I was always looking over my shoulder, waiting for him to be there, for a message or something, waiting for him to cause more pain. But it’s over, it’s really over now.

Now I’m in Germany I finally feel safe. He’s not going to hurt me here, he’s not going to hurt me ever again because I won’t let him.

Unfortunately I have a strange ability to remember dates (whether voluntarily or involuntarily!) so I knew it was his birthday recently. And I didn’t think it would affect me – why should it? But everytime it gets to a time of year that I relate to him, I start having these dreams (nightmares) about him.

Why won’t he stop haunting me? It’s over now.

And every time I think, that’s it – I never need to think about anything to do with him again, there are these triggers. Stupid things, tiny things. Like dates and places and smells and things.

I went to the funfair, something I have memories of doing with the ex. And they weren’t bad memories, yet I have been hesitant to do anything that reminds me of anything to do with the ex. But I went to the funfair, it was fun and I made new memories. And it hit me…

Not all of my memories of the ex are bad. And that’s ok.

A lot of my memories of him are horrible, and demonise him. I’ve never written here about the good times, because they aren’t the things that are still affecting me. But once upon a time, we were ok. Before everything went wrong, he made me happy. And that’s ok.

I have been trying for so long to forget everything about him, but I can’t – it’s impossible. It’s over 3 years of my life at an important time in my life, and I can’t erase 3 years of memories, I can’t pretend they never happened. And I’m finally starting to realise that they are memories, they are in the past, some of them are good, lots of them are bad, but they’re just memories and it’s not going to happen again.

Sometimes it’s better not to know

What you don’t know can’t hurt you…

Right?

Sometimes knowing can help, sometimes it can make it worse, always it makes things different.

I found out in May that the ex is having a baby with his current girlfriend. It shook me up a bit, and definitely made my path to recovery a bit bumpier, a bit harder.

But that was all I knew. I didn’t know who she is. I didn’t know how many months, or when the baby was due. I didn’t know if it was going to be a girl or boy. And I didn’t want to know.

All I wanted to know is why now? Why is she good enough and I wasn’t?

But I didn’t speak to him about it. I didn’t speak to him at all.

And it’s been in the back of my mind since then. But I didn’t know any details so it wasn’t real (to me.) And I didn’t want to know any more about him or his life now. I had cut him off, severed all ties. I don’t have him on facebook, I don’t talk to him, I don’t text him. I won’t send him a text on his birthday, christmas or new year. Nothing.

And then today I got a text from Artist. She said: Did you know your ex has just had a baby?

And now I know when, and now I know it’s real. And now I know that it’s a girl and was born a few days ago.

I still feel like I don’t deserve that: the relationship, the happy family. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want it now, but one day. And I feel like I’ll never be able to. I’ll never deserve it, I’ll never be good enough.

And he gets it all. He gets to play happy families and ignore all of the stuff that happened in the past. But me, I’m stuck in the past. And one day I’m going to end up losing S because of it. Because I can’t get over what happened with me and the ex, the whole thing was just a toxic mess that I couldn’t escape from. And even now I haven’t fully escaped… in my dreams (nightmares) and in my mind it’s still real (sometimes.) It still scares me.

And then it makes me question whether it all happened at all. Whether it really was “that bad” or whether I’ve gone crazy and imagined it all. Maybe my hatred of him twisted my memories. Maybe the arguments were because I was always doing things wrong… Maybe, maybe, maybe.

All of these thoughts, these questions have been opened up again. All of the memories I have fought so hard to keep away come flooding back.

I am angry and I am hurting. I hate him and I hate myself. I want to speak to him and I don’t. I want to know and at the same time I don’t at all. I want to ask him why I wasn’t good enough, why he treated me like he did, why someone else is good enough to have a baby with and I wasn’t.

But I’m not going to ask him. Because starting contact with him again would never end well. He would try to manipulate me again, try to make me believe he’s a different person now and that things weren’t that bad, that I’m exaggerating. And he’s had enough chances, and he always proved me right. He is not someone I want in my life (again.)

And that’s why sometimes it’s better not to know.

Strange happenings & arguments

It seems like every time I post something on my blog, something strange happens!

One time, I wrote about the ex, and the next day I received a message from him (despite not having heard from him for months before that!)

Yesterday, I wrote a cheerful post about things being a lot better… And then last night got very upset and ended up arguing with S, and today I’ve spent most of the day in bed and feeling down. 

It’s all very strange.

I know it’s not because I’ve written it. But it does seem that everytime I write that things are feeling a bit better, I end up feeling worse afterwards. 

Last night’s argument made me realise I still have a very long way to go before I’m “better”. I am insecure, scared and worry about everything. I read far too deeply into situations and I expect S to understand how I feel all the time, when of course he can’t. I struggle to keep up with it myself!

During this argument, it came to light that there are lots of underlying issues. And they are not issues with our relationship, but more about me (because of the ex). I am ridiculously insecure, and trust is very difficult. Even though S has never given me a reason not to trust him, I always imagine these “what if” scenarios, and I expect him to find someone else (like the ex did). 

He went out with his friends while I was away, and it was something he was planning to do when everyone was home, but he did it while I was away. I can’t help but see it as him not wanting me to be there. No matter how much he tells me that’s not true. Then it comes down to me thinking he’s embarrassed and ashamed to be with me, and that’s why he doesn’t want me there. The more I think about this, the more it snowballs until I’ve convinced myself that S is just going to hurt me (just like the ex did). 

They are not the same. They are completely different people. I need to remember that.

Not everyone treats people the way the ex did.

I find it very difficult not to blame myself for everything, and not to over-analyse every detail of everything. 

Recently S has said things that he hasn’t said before. Nice things, about wanting a future for us, and being in love with me. But for some reason it scares me. Because you can say the right words but it doesn’t make things work. The ex said all the right things, and treated me like crap. He made me feel like I was nothing, like I was lucky that he put up with me, and now that’s how I feel about myself. 

In my previous relationship, sex was a given. I guess I thought I had to, that it was his (the ex’s) right in a way. And sex was something I could give him, to make up for all the crap he had to put up with by being with me. Sex was how I learned to show love (that’s what my relationship with the ex taught me, anyway). But he didn’t love me. He said all the right things, but he hurt me and he used me. He made me into this mess, and I’m still trying to pick up the pieces, even though we split up nearly 2 years ago now…

S still says sex is not important, that it doesn’t matter and he doesn’t mind that I’m not ready. I just see it as me letting him down again and again. I am ashamed of myself for not being able to give him that, the one thing that he could get out of being with me (the way I see it anyway). 

I hate arguing with S. It makes me so sad. It hurts too much. We don’t argue much, but when we do it’s because of me being insecure, me over-thinking everything, me over-reacting. I want to stop. I want to be “normal”, whatever that is.

I wish I could have a normal relationship, where past memories don’t affect the present, where I’m not scared of being left behind, and where S doesn’t have to make all these allowances for me. He never complains, ever. He just takes it, he just puts up with all the crazy ways I react.

I know he loves me, I know I’m lucky to have him. He makes me happy, or happier than I’ve been in a long time anyway. So why don’t I let myself trust him? Why don’t I let myself believe the things he says? Why do I question his motives all the time? I just wish I could get over the past, then maybe I could live in the present. 

CBT – week 8

I managed to oversleep this morning, and woke up at about 8:20 (should have left my house at 8:15) so I had to get a taxi (again) – oops!

But I made it on time so it was ok.

A asked how my week was and I said not good. I have been feeling really hopeless and hadn’t managed to get any work done.

We talked about the work and how I am expecting perfection from myself when I am actually ill. I am pushing myself too hard and that is actually holding me back. I think that I can’t do all of it to the standard I want, therefore it seems hopeless and pointless to even try, so I don’t do it, and end up feeling like a failure anyway.

If I could accept that my best at the moment isn’t perfect, maybe I’d get further.

We talked about how I am a perfectionist, and will feel like anything less than a 1st is failure. A asked me: If you get a 2:1, will you have failed? And I thought about it. And no, of course that is not failing. I know that. And yet, I know I’d be very disappointed if I don’t manage it. A said maybe the perfectionism is me trying to make up for my past mistakes. And if that’s the case, then even getting a 1st won’t help – it won’t change what happened, it can’t change the past.

Then A asked if I had been feeling worse after doing the retelling last week about the strangling memory. I actually haven’t been though. I haven’t been having nightmares, screaming in my sleep or having flashbacks this week *touch wood*. So I guess that’s progress in itself. I felt kind of relieved after the last session because I had been able to talk about it, and nothing bad happened. A said something at the time that made a lot of sense – What is the worst thing that could happen? (and I said nothing really, it would just be scary) and Will it be as bad as it actually was? (No). And somehow after all this time trying to repress it, it turned out talking about it was actually kind of helpful, even if tiring.

We will be coming back to that I am sure, as I haven’t really finished dealing with it. But today we talked about the thing that I think is the root to my depression/anxiety/PTSD.

I’ve written about it here only once. And I ended up making it into a password protected post. I was paranoid and terrified that somehow someone I know would find my blog and read it. I might try and write about it again soon, because it might help and because I am trying to deal with it (finally) but I may end up with password protected posts again…we’ll see.

As next week is the last week before the holidays, we have decided that we won’t look at that next week because it will be 4 or 5 weeks until I see A again, and she doesn’t want me to end up feeling worse if we end up opening up the memories without having time to deal with them. I think that’s a good idea, but in a strange way I am looking forward to starting sessions again after the holidays, because I feel like once I can deal with this, I’ll be a long way on the way to recovery. (If that even makes sense).

So instead, next week we are looking at thoughts again. Thoughts that cause worry chains, but they are just thoughts and they don’t have to come true. Like about A crashing her car – it didn’t happen (of course).

So this week I am trying to take note of the thoughts that cause these worry chains.

So I’m going to be having a good long think about all this, and I’ll let you all know what I come up with. And today I feel like there is actually hope (again).

Sometimes having therapy on a Monday morning seems like a bad start to the week, but I do find that generally after my sessions I feel more hopeful. So maybe it’s a good start to the week.

Maybe everything’s going to be ok after all? I just need to give it (even more) time.

I have now had 7 sessions out of a possible 20. In a way it doesn’t feel like I’ve got very far, but in another way it feels like every week I’m getting a bit further, and all of these little steps will add up. It seems like now I have got to trust A a bit, and she is getting to know more about me, we are making more and more progress each week.

And the moral of the story is, give it a try. It might help (even if you were convinced it wouldn’t.)

Lots of love,

Ellie xxx

P.S. I’m starting to notice a trend in my blogging/thoughts – the beginning of the week (following therapy) I am hopeful and things seem to be on the up, and then as the week goes on I seem to feel worse… Hopefully in time this will lessen and everyday will become a hopeful day!

CBT – Week 7

Yep – it’s Monday again!

In today’s session we talked about how my week has been – not good basically. And we talked about the psychiatrist, and why even though he has a plan, it made me feel hopeless because it’s going to take such a long time.

Cognitive distortions at work again – trying to predict the future. A said “do you have a crystal ball?”, which is a good point really. I am being pessimistic and assuming that the CBT and medication won’t help, and that we really will have to try every option that there is to make me feel better. It might not happen. I need to approach this from a more positive angle – they wouldn’t get me to try these things if they didn’t think they would help, and if they don’t help, there are still other options.

I said I feel like I am functioning less, because I missed quite a bit of uni last week, and phoned in sick for my volunteering. By the end of the session, A said she actually thinks it’s progress, because I am realising that I can’t/don’t have to do everything, and I am noticing when I need to take some time off. Before I would always go to uni/other commitments, no matter how bad I felt, but now I am starting to pay more attention to how I am feeling, and be a bit nicer to myself.

We also talked about my perfectionism again. I told A that I don’t think I’m going to get a first. She said “what’s the worst thing that could happen?”

Me: “I could actually fail.”

A: “Is there evidence that you are likely to fail?”

Me: “No, I probably won’t actually fail. But if I don’t get a first I will FEEL like I have failed.”

A: “But is that true? Would you have failed if you got a 2:1?”

Me: “No.”

This conversation went on, and the gist of it was that:

a) I’m angry because I am working hard, and under normal circumstances getting a first would be quite possible, yet no matter how much I try I can’t concentrate at the moment so I am not working at my best.

b) I want to get a first to prove the ex wrong. He always made me feel like I couldn’t do stuff, and I don’t want to let him ruin any more of my life. If I get a first it is a major achievement, and I will have done it without and in spite of him*.

and c) I need to change my expectations of myself, because aiming high is good, but seeing anything other than the best as a failure is not.

Then we came back to trauma stuff. Because that’s the way the session went. A asked me to give an example of a time where the ex made me feel like I couldn’t do something/that I was a failure. I couldn’t do it. I was dissociating and we used the grounding technique to bring me back to the room. It was like I felt dizzy even though I wasn’t moving, and when I shut my eyes it seemed like the world was shaking, like when you watch a home video and the camera wobbles a lot.

We then started on the retelling of the memory that I have flashbacks of a lot. Today I did it in the past tense, so it was more detached but next week I will do it in the first person present tense – “I am in my room.”

Afterwards I went to my safe space, and then at the end of the session we said goodbye until next week. We had a longer session than normal today, and A said I could stay and sit for a little while to make sure I was ok before I left.

Even just talking a bit about it today was hard, but I feel a little better for it. The memory doesn’t seem quite as scary anymore, and even though it did happen and it was horrible, it can’t hurt me anymore. I need to remember that. “What is the worst thing that could happen?” That’s a good question, and when thinking about memories, actually nothing can happen because he is no longer in my life, and he can’t hurt me anymore.

I think today was a very productive session actually. And now I’ve written this and reflected on it, I am feeling a little bit more motivated to do some work (even if I didn’t manage to make it to the gym today, and had a nap instead – oops!)

So maybe there is some hope after all!

Lots of love,

Ellie xxx

*We actually discussed this too, and A asked if I would still be proving him wrong if I got a 2:1… I guess the answer is yes.

I am lucky

I have been feeling low for a long time. Sometimes I feel better for a few hours, even a day or a week, but then I fall back to the depths of sadness and depression.

Recently I have been remembering things, memories which are very scary, memories which have been haunting me when I’m awake as flashbacks, and in my sleep as nightmares.

But sometimes these things help us realise why we are lucky. I am lucky because I am away from him now. I am lucky because I have this blog, and lots of lovely bloggy friends here to support me. I am lucky because I have a boyfriend who makes me feel safe.

Last night I decided I needed to tell S about the nightmares and the memories. I sent him my last blog post, the one about nightmares. I copy and pasted it, he still doesn’t know where my blog is. I know he could find it if he wanted to, but I just have to trust that he respects my privacy and decision not to let anyone from my “real life” read my blog. I couldn’t talk about it, but I felt like he should know. It explains some of my strange behaviour. It explains some of the pain. I was scared that he would judge me, or tell me that I’m a slut. He didn’t. Of course he didn’t. He said

I love you so much. You know that right. I would never do anything like that to you. I love you too much to ever hurt you at all. 

I told him that I feel bad that he has to wait (for sex) and that I feel like I’m not giving him what I’m supposed to. He said

You shouldn’t use that term. Supposed to. You aren’t supposed to do anything. You give me everything I want. A cuddle and a kiss.

It brings me to tears now as I’m typing this. Because he cares, unconditionally and really. He doesn’t want to hurt me and all he wants is for me to be happy. It is strange for me that someone can treat me like this without expecting anything in return. I know my view of relationships is messed up, but I am realising how lucky I am to have S, and how much happier I am with him than I ever was with the ex.

A lot of bad things come from depression, but sometimes good things too. Today I have realised that I am lucky and I have someone who really cares and wants to look after me. Through this depression, I have learned things I didn’t know about myself, I have made this blog and I feel safe writing here, knowing that I have wonderful friends who will support me, celebrate my victories with me, and remind me that things will get better when I feel like all hope is gone.

So I just want to say Thank you, to all of you for being there for me.