Stepping out of my comfort zone

Today my boyfriend had a day off, which is very unusual for a Saturday. We went for a walk this morning and then did a bit of shopping, went for dinner and then met up with his work friends. Let me first say, his friends are lovely and they always make me welcome. 

But I feel very anxious about being around lots of people, especially when I don’t know them very well. So we were going to a pub in central london on a Saturday evening, I knew it would be busy. 

Yesterday I said I might not go to the drinks in the evening. Today I decided I’d see how I felt and then decide. When we arrived at the drinks I said I would leave after about an hour. 

I actually stayed for over two hours. And I had a nice time. Yes I felt a bit anxious at first and I am bloody knackered from all the walking I’ve done today, but I enjoyed the evening and I’m glad I went. 

I guess the point of this post is to say I am trying to push my comfort zones. And it’s a good thing to do. I always put in my safety mechanisms, for example I took my car home before we went into london so that I could leave the drinks earlier than my boyfriend if I wanted to (I did and he’ll probably be out most of the night) and that helps with anxiety. I find if there’s no way out, that’s when I struggle. Like with the hike, I was more anxious because I knew that if I dropped out the whole group had to stop (minimum group numbers). It’s also important not to push yourself too hard (where is the line? You’ll have to judge that for yourself!) because sometimes you feel like you go backwards that way, but usually if you are taking small steps, a step out of your comfort zone is a step in the right direction. 

So go on, push your boundaries and do something that’s a bit difficult, you might surprise yourself! 

Love,

Ellie xx

Advertisements

Pushing my comfort zone

Today my boyfriend had a day off, which is very unusual for a Saturday. We went for a walk this morning and then did a bit of shopping, went for dinner and then met up with his work friends. Let me first say, his friends are lovely and they always make me welcome. 

But I feel very anxious about being around lots of people, especially when I don’t know them very well. So we were going to a pub in central london on a Saturday evening, I knew it would be busy. 

Yesterday I said I might not go to the drinks in the evening. Today I decided I’d see how I felt and then decide. When we arrived at the drinks I said I would leave after about an hour. 

I actually stayed for over two hours. And I had a nice time. Yes I felt a bit anxious at first and I am bloody knackered from all the walking I’ve done today, but I enjoyed the evening and I’m glad I went. 

I guess the point of this post is to say I am trying to push my comfort zones. And it’s a good thing to do. I always put in my safety mechanisms, for example I took my car home before we went into london so that I could leave the drinks earlier than my boyfriend if I wanted to (I did and he’ll probably be out most of the night) and that helps with anxiety. I find if there’s no way out, that’s when I struggle. Like with the hike, I was more anxious because I knew that if I dropped out the whole group had to stop (minimum group numbers). It’s also important not to push yourself too hard (where is the line? You’ll have to judge that for yourself!) because sometimes you feel like you go backwards that way, but usually if you are taking small steps, a step out of your comfort zone is a step in the right direction. 

So go on, push your boundaries and do something that’s a bit difficult, you might surprise yourself! 

Love,

Ellie xx

Things that help: pampering self-care

I am trying to find as many things as possible that help. Things that help when I’m feeling low, things that help with the aching, things that just make me feel a bit better. This post is about pampering and self-care in a more physical sense. Would love to hear any more suggestions! 

Bubble baths are one of my favourites. I put in some bubble bath or a bath bomb (I love the selection at Lush!), run a nice hot bath, put on a relaxing playlist and sink into the bubbles. It’s a chance for “me time”, to relax and unwind, and as an added bonus, it often helps with the aching. If there’s no time for a bath, a hot shower can also help lift my mood and reduce the aching, especially if I have a deliciously scented shower gel! 

Painting nails. This sounds really strange but if my nails are painted I have no urge whatsoever to bite them. If they aren’t painted and I start getting anxious, I get the urge to bite them. Then I get annoyed with myself, then I get more anxious and bite them more, and so it goes on. The other thing is, when my nails are painted a bright colour it cheers me up when I see them. And that’s why when I did the dreaded hike, I painted my nails green with orange dots!

Face masks – another way to “pamper”. I have one that goes on and feels very cool on the skin and then just sinks in. This is great when I feel run down and my skin goes dry. The ones that set (clay/mud masks) are great because you can feel them setting which keeps you in the present moment. Also you are guaranteed a laugh if you look in the mirror while it’s on! 

Lipstick – never underestimate the power of a good lipstick. Despite not being a very “girly girl”, I own an embarrassing number of lipsticks. There is something about lipstick that gives me confidence. I have a lipstick for every occasion – nude lipsticks for days when I just want a little extra something, bright lipsticks which scream confidence (even if i don’t actually feel confident, the lipstick helps!) and everything inbetween. I think a bit of colour helps brighten up my face, especially on days I feel very tired. I joked with a colleague once that if I was wearing a bright lipstick, it meant it was a tired day, and that’s probably true! 

Spa days. This one I have yet to try, but it makes sense that a relaxing spa day would boost my mood, reduce stress etc. I am hoping to do a spa day with some friends sometime in the future, so I guess I’ll write a post about that when it happens. 

Wearing pyjamas and dressing gown. I will confess that I spend most of my time at home in my pjymamas and dressing gown, and if not pyjamas then dressing gown over clothes. I have one of those super soft fluffy dressing gowns and they are the best thing to comfort me. It is so comfortable and comforting to be wrapped up in snuggly pyjamas and a dressing gown, one of the few things I like about the weather getting colder is that I can get the fluffy pyjamas, slippers and dressing gown out without anyone thinking I’m strange! 

Writing this has put me in the mood for a bath and pyjamas now!

Love,

Ellie xx

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 –

Therapy 

I had a therapy session yesterday, the first one for about 4 weeks because I was away and then she was away. Since I last saw her, a lot has happened – I got diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I went sky diving, my anxiety has got worse, my depression has got worse etc etc. 

It was good to talk. It was good to be completely honest and open instead of wondering and worrying about how she would react, what she would think of me. I’m glad and I know I’m lucky that I have reached this feeling of trust with my therapist. I don’t filter my words and thoughts in that room. There’s no expectation. I told her I’m feeling rubbish. I feel low, lonely, angry, disappointed, hopeless…. all of this negativity. And she doesn’t tell me I should be grateful for what I have or tell me it’s going to be ok. She sits with me in the shit and she’s just there, listening, understanding. 

After last nights session, I had the best sleep I’ve had in probably about a month (coincidence, I think not!) I felt a sense of relief, an ability to breathe properly when I left. I needed to get things out. 

I cried and it was hard. And I named difficult things which I didn’t used to be able to do. I used to clam up and not be able to talk when things were hard, but now I can say them even if it’s through tears. 

Without a doubt I know therapy has helped me massively, and it still is. I can see that I have made a lot of progress, and even though my mood has done a nosedive since May and is showing no signs of improving, it helps to talk about it, and I’m not in the dark place I once was. 

I am currently en route to the middle of nowhere for my hike, so won’t be writing for a few days. When I get back I’m going to write a series of blog posts on things that help. (One of them will be on bullet journals, I imagine I’ll write one on therapy at some point.) I’ve already started writing the posts so I’m excited to share my experiences with you, and hoping maybe some of the ideas will help others too. 

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

A spark of motivation 

Working in the field of mental health, I spend 5 days a week trying to support clients with their mental health and suggesting goals – try mindfulness or write down three positive things everyday or make time for self care. I often find myself coming out with gems such as “you can’t pour from an empty cup” and “you are always focused on others, but what do YOU want?” 

Hypocrite. 

Yep, I am a massive hypocrite. 

But no more. I am going to try and take my own advice. I am going to try and be more positive, make time for self care, be selfish sometimes. 

Now I am not going to sit here and pretend that a bit of mindfulness here or goal setting there is going to cure anyone because that would be bullshit. You know that, I know that. But it’s about doing things that help, even a little bit. It’s about building confidence, helping someone develop their identity – things they do or don’t like, enabling people to get that sense of achievement when they meet a goal. It’s about small steps and sitting with that person and really listening (because so often people don’t listen) So now it’s time to support myself.  I’m going to work on being the best I can be, and to help myself be a little bit happier again. 

One of my lovely blogger friends is doing 100 happy days at the moment, I tried it once before and didn’t manage it all, but I’ve been inspired by my blogging friend so I’m going to try again but in my journal this time, a little more manageable. I’m on Day 3 so far, I am managing and I won’t worry if I don’t manage all 100 days in a row!

 I have started my mindfulness again lately (I did 25 days in a row but went away for the weekend and lost my streak – but I started it up again today). I have a bullet journal, I find it very therapeutic but for some reason I stopped*, I will get that going again. 

A little bit of motivation has surfaced today! 

I am going to do some blog posts on the things that help me such as mindfulness and bullet journaling. What helps you? Is there anything you would like me to write about? 

Love,

Ellie xx

*When I start feeling unwell I stop all of the things that actually helped before. It’s counterproductive but the motivation goes and before you know it, all the good things have been left behind and you’re wallowing even more! 

Doctors 

This morning I sat in front of a GP and told them how crap I feel. I told her I’m exhausted and I don’t know how to keep going. I told her I feel like I’m going to fall asleep all the time. I told her I feel suicidal again. 

She said “go to A&E if you feel suicidal”

I am so angry. What a load of crap. That is all you have for me? I work in mental health, I know how this goes. If I went to A&E (which I won’t), I would sit for hours, eventually see someone and say I feel suicidal, they would ask if I have acted on it, I would say no, and they’d send me home and we would both feel that our time has been wasted. 

Such bullshit. 

She talked about prescribing some antidepressants and I said I didn’t mind but wasn’t sure what to try as I’ve had so many. She said we would start again with the most common ones. What the hell? Oh I see this medication didn’t work for you last time so let’s try it again??? And then she didn’t even prescribe anything. 

I told her that I have been told I’m too unwell for IAPT and not unwell enough for the mental health team. Why is there this ridiculous gap? This is why I have to pay for private therapy. 

Not a happy Ellie today. I feel let down by our NHS. I felt rushed to get out of the door. She didn’t help, it made me feel worse. 

Rant over xx

What if this is it

I’m afraid this is a bit of a negative one. Feeling sorry for myself this evening. The fear that things will always be this way is strong today. My physical symptoms are getting on top of me and being positive is too much today. 

Love Ellie xx
Like a vampire, avoiding light 

A slow and tired sloth 

There are a group of little creatures

Having a disco in my head. 

Their music thumping away. 

Someone has pumped my body full of lead

Limbs heavy 

Mind heavy 

A thought occurs to me, a whisper in my mind 

“This is the rest of my life”

Pain and tiredness

Feeling blue 

“What if this is it?”

Run Ellie run! 

I have taken up running. I haven’t done that much running as I have been knackered recently but went for a run today. It is humid and hot but I managed just over 5km (it was 3.3 miles according to my app).

My goal is to run a half marathon to fundraise for a scout thing I am doing. I have a long way to go but happy that I can run 5km without dying now, in about 30 mins. 

Running makes me feel alive. I need to remember that feeling the next time I feel too tired and achy to run. It really does make me feel better to run, at least at the time it does. Sometimes I get the pay back afterwards and I’m knackered for days, sometimes it seems to be ok (fingers crossed this is an ok day!) 

I want to get into regular exercise for a few reasons;

1. Exercise makes you happy. It boosts the endorphins and all that jazz. 

2. I want to lose weight/ feel better about my body. Also IF i do have fibro, it will help not to have extra weight hanging around making the pain worse

3. I want to be healthier. I am also working on my water intake and trying (and often failing) to eat more healthily. I just really love chocolate and everything that’s bad for you! 

4. A sense of achievement. When I run further or quicker, when I don’t feel quite as exhausted after spin, when I can do more press ups*, these are all achievements and it makes me feel good. 

Love 

(A very sweaty) Ellie xx

* I have to confess that I probably can’t do any currently. Last time I started exercising properly I managed to be able to do about 20 ‘girly’ press ups, which isn’t many, but when I started I fell on my face after 1!