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

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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?”

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!

And down

The down always comes. It’s not a big down, not like before, but none the less it snuck up on me, like it always does.

Because nothing has changed, not really. I still have an underlying hatred of myself. I still have no confidence, I’m still waiting for things to go wrong, I’m still not good enough.

I hate myself in so many ways and I don’t know any way out of this.

I want to feel better about myself, I want to feel confident, I want to be happy. But there’s this nagging part of my brain that’s always there telling me I’m not good enough, nothing I ever do will be good enough. Give up. No one cares. I don’t matter.

And this cycle of being ok, even good for a while, and then feeling down again continues, always. And it’s never going to stop unless I do something about it. I know that. And yet I don’t know how to do something about it.

I know what needs to be done, just not how. I need to change the way I see myself. Because frankly, a lot of the negative stuff is just in my head, and it’s the way I see myself, not the way anyone else sees me.

I still don’t feel entitled to feel depressed. I have everything so good, and right now things are good – really good, and I want to enjoy it. I want to make the most  of my year abroad, I want to enjoy all the things I can do here but every time I stop, this self-critical voice crawls out, and taints everything else.

There are things I can change. For example I hate my body. I feel fat and I can change that. I can exercise more and I can eat more healthily. I want to change that, maybe if I feel better on the outside I’ll feel better on the inside?

And the more I think about it, the worse I feel. SO just don’t think about it then?

I wish it was that easy.

I feel like I don’t deserve any of the good stuff. I deserve the bad stuff. I’m pathetic, useless and I’m never going to get to where I want to be because I’m not good enough. Because I’ll never be perfect. Why am I even aiming for something that doesn’t exist? Why can’t I be happy with me? With my best?

It’s almost like I get to a certain point, and something tells me things are too good, I’m too happy, and then this stupid criticising voice pipes up and knocks me down. And I’m tired of fighting with myself. I just want to be me and be ok with that. I’m sick of comparing myself to other people, I’m sick of feeling inferior, I’m sick of waiting for S to leave me, I’m sick of never matching my expectations, I’m sick of never being good enough for myself.

And now I’m going to sleep. I know I’ll feel better in the morning, I need to get out of this negative mindset. It’s what happens when I spend a day doing nothing.

And Repeat

I seem to go round and round in circles. For a while things seem to have settled down, weeks, maybe a month. But it always comes back to this. The way my brain works is fundamentally negative. Sometimes I can ignore the negativity, put on a brave face and keep going. But it keeps building up and building up, and eventually I give in to it: All of the negative stuff is true and then I become paranoid, sad, insecure and self-hating. Again.

You would’ve thought by now I would come to expect this to happen. But every time it’s a surprise. Every time, I’m sad again, ruminating in my own negativity. What is this? Some kind of a cruel joke, trying to crush the happiness I’m working so hard to find?

And it all leads to more stuff. One small thing, one look or one comment can suddenly mean that I am a failure in life and no one loves me. It’s irrational and I know it. And somehow that makes it worse. I think This is irrational, I will ignore this stuff. But it comes right back with a painful blow: You’re irrational, out of control. You don’t deserve anything. All you do is mess things up.

And S tries to help, he always does. But it hurts him when I tell him I think he’s going to leave me, when I tell him I’m not good enough and he shouldn’t be with me. Sometimes I think I should just run away, escape from it because if I leave it can’t hurt me (right?) I’m so scared, petrified of being hurt again, being used and left again. But when I’m not in this mindset, when I have my rational brain in gear, I know this is stupid. He makes me happier than I’ve been in such a long time, he cares about me and he’s always there for me and he’s the only one I want to talk to when something happens (good or bad.) I know I don’t want to leave really, but sometimes I think it would be safer. Love isn’t safe, you let someone get so close to you and you know they could hurt you, really hurt you if they chose to. And that’s scary.

So let’s get this negativity out. Maybe if I see it written it will make more sense, maybe…

S was watching a film with a friend, he said that I don’t like the films he likes. It’s true, I’m not a massive fan of action films. But my brain twisted it:

He wants me to be different

I am boring

I’m not good enough

He’s going to leave me

I’ll be all alone

I’m unlovable

No one cares about me

Why should they? I’m disgusting.

I’m too fat, too ugly.

He is only with me because he feels sorry for me

I don’t deserve him

I don’t deserve to be treated right

The ex was right about me

I’m nothing.

And so you see, the thoughts spiral. This is the whole “don’t get on the train” thing from CBT, except I got on the train. Again. And I end up feeling worse and worse. And I get paranoid, because good things don’t happen to horrible people like me so that means something is going to go wrong.

S said there’s only one thing he doesn’t like about me, that I’m so negative all the time. But it’s not a choice. I try so hard to keep going even when I feel bad, I try to be positive but these thoughts, these negative thoughts fill up my mind and I can’t get them out. I’m stuck. I told him I’m still ill and I feel like he thinks I should be over it by now, he said he doesn’t think that. I can’t get it out of my head that the ex always said I’m seeking attention and (my) depression isn’t real. So maybe S thinks that too…

And every time this happens, I speak to S. He calms me down. He tells me he’s not going anywhere and that he loves me. And then some time later, it all repeats…

Destructive thoughts

** Trigger warning **

Feeling very (self)destructive at the moment.

Went to meet some friends for lunch. It was nice but I felt like I was pretending everything is fine. 

But my brain is negative negative negative.

Driving back I felt the familiar urges to drive faster, lose control, crash the car. What if I took my seatbelt off? What if I spun the steering wheel? What if I crashed the car?

My mind is racing and I don’t feel safe. So anxious, so on edge. And my mind is telling me it’s my fault. Not good enough. Never going to be good enough. What’s the point. Give up. Die die die.

Maybe I should run. Run run run and not look back. Escape. But I can’t escape. The only abuse now comes from myself. Can’t run away from myself.

I just want to feel safe. Need to feel calm. 

Maybe a shower will help calm me. Wash the despair away. The shame, the disappointment, the failure.

Why am I such a mess? I want it all to stop.

Run Ellie Run!

Recently I’ve been feeling a bit fat. I know I’m not obese or anything like that, I am a healthy weight but I think I would feel better about myself if I got rid of the podgy-ness.

So do something about it… That’s what S says and I know it makes sense. I can’t complain about it while not doing anything to change it. But there’s a lot of fears and what ifs…

In the past I used to go running, and it got to an unhealthy stage. I know how exercise can become addictive and I’m scared of that. I’m scared that if I start trying to lose a little bit of weight, I’ll become obsessed with it and won’t be able to stop.

And on the flip side, I’m scared that it won’t do anything. What if I do all this exercise and I still look the same, then I’ll feel like a failure, and that’s one of my biggest fears. Or what if I lose some weight and still feel bad about myself? That’s incredibly likely because as we all know, I’m a perfectionist, and perfection doesn’t exist so I will never be good enough in my own eyes.

And that’s the biggest issue really isn’t it? Nothing I ever do will ever be good enough for myself because I will always feel like I should do better, be better, be perfect. But why the hell should I be perfect? No one else is and I allow them their flaws, but me? Nope, not good enough. Must try harder.

The negative thoughts are (clearly) very active at the moment. S always says I approach things too negatively, and I should try to be more positive. But that’s the whole thing: If I was positive, I probably wouldn’t be depressed would I?! And even though recently I’ve been trying to be more positive about the future, there’s still these niggling voices in my head telling me I’m not good enough and I can’t do it so I may aswell give up.

It’s like there’s an internal argument in my mind the whole time and it’s exhausting. One side is actually pretty positive, whilst the other is very negative and always strikes when least expected.

Another thing that’s not helping the negativity is that I’ve been having a lot of nightmares recently. A lot of them seem to feature the ex and it is freaking me out. I feel like I’m being haunted by him and the way things were in the past. I know I can’t erase him from my memory, I know he was a big part of my life for a significant amount of time, but it was quite a long time ago now, I just want it to fade away.

But anyway, back to the actual point of this post…

I am going to try and start running again. I’m trying to fight the memories it brings back, and let myself move on and start again. I was going to go this morning but I didn’t – I slept badly (nightmares) and was feeling pretty negative (as you can see!) So I’m letting it go for now, and planning to go on Wednesday morning. I’m going to try and plan a short route before I go, and I am not going to push myself too hard (75% is enough!) but hopefully it will help me feel a bit better.

For one thing, it would get me out of bed, which is not always the easiest thing to do! Also, exercise is meant to make you feel happy, and I could do with some of that!

I am realising that this perfectionism is a big issue. I am never going to be happy until I change my goals. Perfection is not a suitable goal, I need to set achievable goals instead. But how do you ignore the thoughts that have followed you for your whole life? How do you fight the thoughts that have been ingrained into your brain and reinforced for years? I’m not sure about that at the moment, but hopefully eventually I will be able to work through these things and will be able to be happy with who I am and what I do, instead of the constant beliefs that I am not good enough and nothing I ever do will ever be good enough. (Good enough for what?)

There are so many questions that I don’t know the answer to, and so many issues that I am nowhere near solving. Sometimes it feels hopeless and like I will never get through it, but I have to. I am determined that eventually I will deal with all of this.

(Sorry about the higgledy-piggledyness of this post, I meant to write about running, but ended up writing about perfectionism…. which shows me that’s the key issue!)

Get off that train

**trigger warning – self harm thoughts**

The thought train/negative spiral, whatever you want to call it… It tends to run away with itself, until suddenly you’ve made a mountain out of a molehill, and paranoid thoughts become the absolute truth (in your mind)

Last night the situation arose (again), but this time it was a bit different. Instead of staying on that train, going down the track of paranoia, self doubt and anger, I stopped the train.

I argue for the sake of arguing, because if S gets angry or says something horrible, it proves that I’m right, that he doesn’t really love me, that I’m worth nothing… And I’m paranoid, if he wants to see his friends, its not because he actually wants to see them, its because he doesn’t want to see me, he is just trying to avoid seeing me. This stupid paranoid thought spirals. And when he said he is going to the pub with Sheep, (and didn’t invite me) my immediate thought was that I’m not invited, they don’t want to see me… he wants her not me. Even though they haven’t really made proper plans, just said that they will go on Wednesday, and we always go to the pub, the 3 of us, why wouldn’t I be invited? My brain is incredibly irrational.

But yesterday I didn’t get to my usual point, I didn’t get to the point of “well why are you even with me then, you should just leave me” (because I’m not worth anyone’s love.)

So even though it still went further than it should. The paranoid thoughts are still there, so is the self doubt and thoughts that I’m not good enough. But these are just thoughts, not reality. And I noticed that, and stopped it earlier than I have in the past. Little steps.
So now I just have to realise it before the arguments begin, but for now I’m taking little steps to make this better.

It’s strange. When I get these thoughts, I feel so angry and so low. My mood just drops in an instant, and I wish I was dead, I want to cut myself and the urges are so strong. And I feel so so angry, like I just want to scream and shout, and I hate him at that moment. All of these emotions are so strong, I guess that’s why I get carried away into the negative spiral. But then just as quick as it comes, the anger is gone. And I’m sorry, so sorry for being so stupid. And I don’t hate him, I love him.

I have so little control over my emotions, its scary. They are all just so strong, so quick to surface. Why am I like this?

When things go right & CBT

Things seem to be going right at the moment (not to jinx this!)

Today has been pretty productive:

For my psychology dissertation I am using a computer program to make the experiment (a dot that moves, pictures that come up, and it records reaction time etc.) So today’s first victory was making a dot move across a screen (no, I’m not joking!) It’s not quite right in terms of timing yet, but there’s a dot and it moves so I’m half way there with that bit!

I also had an email back today from my project supervisor, and he has only made a few suggestions for changes on my ethics proposal, meaning that with any luck I will be able to finish it and hand it in early next week (ahead of the deadline on Friday.)

I also had a response back from my old school about doing my research there, using the pupils as research participants, and they said yes!

I also rang work (I will be starting work again once I’m home for summer) and sorted out some hours, and they’ve said I can have a few days off in mid-July so it turns out I probably will get to go away with S afterall! 🙂

This week I have also heard back from my school in Germany and my mentor teacher seems lovely. And she’s sorted out somewhere for me to live for the first few weeks of my stay in Germany, so I will be able to find somewhere for the rest of the year when I get there!

More good news on the Germany front – apparently if you register at a university you can get a card that gives you free travel (bus, tram and train) around the region… this sounds amazing!!

And today was also my CBT. We talked about the progress I’ve made this week – about going out last Friday and Saturday and that I managed to think mindfully that I was safe, and in doing so actually enjoyed my nights! We also spoke about these negative thoughts, the next thing to do is to try and stop them when I identify them. At the moment I seem to have a negative thought (now I become aware of it) but then it turns into a negative spiral and I end up feeling really low, paranoid, sad, lonely (insert other negative emotions here!) SO as I become more aware of these thoughts, hopefully I will start to be able to look at the thought, accept it, but stop it (because it is a thought and not a fact!) and thus not “Put the same DVD on”/”Get on the negative thought train”/go into a massive negative spiral. It sounds so easy when it’s put like this, but in reality it really isn’t. BUT I am determined to continue to make progress even after my CBT is finished.* I have bought a book and CD about mindfulness, (but silly Ellie sent it to London instead of Lancaster so I don’t have it yet) so I will write about that when I get home and start using it. Apparently the book has a mindfulness program that you can follow (I think A said 8 weeks?) so that should be interesting (and hopefully helpful!)

On my way home from CBT, I bought a card and a box of maltesers for my friend (pres**) as it’s her birthday tonight, and I am going to her house later for predrinks (jelly shots? Yes please!) and then out to a bar/pub and our student club. BUT I am being nice to me (yes, really!) and I am saying that I will go to predrinks and the bar/pub but I might not go to the club if I don’t feel like it. I am very tired and have had a lot going on this week, so I will see how I feel later. Quite proud of this development – compromise: I am still not letting down my friend (because I do want to celebrate her birthday with her) but I am not forcing myself to go “out out” if I don’t feel like it later. 

Final good news for today was that I rang a Mental Health Centre where I am going to be doing some volunteering over the summer. Originally they had asked me to do Fridays (as it’s their busiest day) but unfortunately work said they can’t give me Fridays off (because it’s a busy day!) so I was worried about what they would say when I said I can’t do Fridays anymore. But the man (who I met in the easter holidays) was lovely, remembered me, and said it’s fine to do Thursdays. In fact he said Thursdays are the nicest day to be there, so that’s exciting! I will be volunteering at a mental health drop-in centre where people can come and chat, have some tea, do different activities etc., and Thursday is the women only drop-in.

Oh yes, and another good thing! Tomorrow I am off to Warwick to visit one of my best friends – Monkey. That will be great as I haven’t seen her since easter, and Leamington Spa is a really nice place as well!

So I probably won’t be back (on WP) until Monday as I’ll be in Warwick and socialising rather than blogging, but this afternoon’s plan involves a nap and catching up on reading blogs before I go out!

Lots of love,

(from a pretty positive) Ellie xxx

*Next week is the last session with A! Arghhh!

**Not sure if I have mentioned her before. She is called “Pres” as she is the new president of one of the societies at uni.

Negative thought patterns

I wonder whether I will ever be happy with myself.

My housemate said “you’re so negative.”

She’s right I am. It’s not like I choose to be though. I can’t help all the “what ifs” that pop into my head, the paranoia that no one really cares. I don’t do it on purpose, but I put up barriers, making everything harder. I don’t know why, I don’t know how.

If I ever treated anyone else the way I treat myself, I would not be considered a nice person. Sometimes I will berate myself over something, but in a very similar situation involving someone else, I will offer support, tell them it’s not their fault. From a psychology point of view (because I’m not studying for nothing!) I see myself a lot in what we learned about attribution styles. I tend to have an internal attribution style for bad things relating to me – if I fail an exam, it’s because I’m useless. Yet, for others I have an external attribution style for negative events – if a friend fails an exam I will say maybe the exam was just too hard, or maybe you had a bad day (not your fault – everyone has bad days sometimes.*) Then when it comes to positive things, I’m the opposite – if someone else succeeds at something it’s because they are clever, they worked hard, they deserved it! (Internal attribution) but if it’s something positive relating to me, I must have been lucky – the exam was easy, or it was because of the situation that I did well (external attribution.)

It’s strange when I see psychological concepts in real life. I wrote an essay about attribution for my social psychology module. And it turns out I’m not unusual in my attribution style – it’s common for people with depression to have a negative attribution style. I suppose it’s to be expected. We teach ourselves that everything we do is wrong and that nothing we could ever do will ever be good enough, and will never be as good as what others can do.

Yet EVEN THOUGH I know the psychology behind it, and EVEN THOUGH I know it’s a distorted way of thinking, I can’t seem to stop myself doing it.

I have a need to succeed, but when I do I never give myself the credit for it. For example, I recently got back my last lab report, it’s only worth 5% of the module, but somehow I got an A+. My first response: they were being a nice marker. Or it was an easy lab report because it was about format not content. EVERYONE probably got an A+**. And it doesn’t matter anyway, because it’s only 5%…

I don’t even know what I’m trying to prove, or who I’m trying to prove it to. Maybe I’m trying to show everyone that I’m not nothing. Maybe I want to prove that the ex was wrong about me. Maybe I want perfection because I think it will make me happy? 

I always thought a perfectionist would want perfection in everything. In themselves, other people, everything they do. I don’t, but A said it is perfectionism. I always see the best in other people, but the worst in myself. I don’t care about mess or if other people make mistakes. It’s only when I make mistakes that I can’t handle it. And it’s mostly about academic stuff, it’s like if I don’t succeed then I’m proving everyone who ever doubted me right. 

This reminded me of a conversation I had with A a long time ago. We were talking about uni and how I felt that I really need to get a 1st. I said I want to show that the ex was wrong about me, to prove that I’m not useless, that I can succeed – that I am good enough. And she said, “Wouldn’t it be succeeding if you got a 2:1?” And that stopped me in my tracks.

Of course that still counts as success. And if anyone else got a 2:1 I would be congratulating them. I know at 2:1 is a really good mark, I know it’s something to be proud of. And yet there would be this part in my brain saying “See, I told you that you couldn’t do it.” I think it has a lot to do with my parents always pushing me to do well in school*** and the school I went to, that was driven purely by exams. A school where getting an A is a bad thing (you need an A*) and where I learned that everyone gets As/A*s all the time. It wasn’t until I had left the school that I realised that is not what the rest of the world is like. Not everyone succeeds all the time, in fact most people don’t succeed all the time. We are human, not robots, we make mistakes, we have strengths and weaknesses, and that should be ok. It’s normal…

Sometimes it’s like an internal battle in my mind. I feel like shouting at myself: WHY can’t you just be happy for yourself that you wrote a good lab report?! WHY do you have to put yourself down all the time?! And the other side is just telling me I don’t deserve it, I’m useless, a failure, I’m never going to be good enough.

Bet you can’t guess which side is winning…

*Except me – I mean I do, I just don’t allow that as an excuse for myself.

**This is not true, but it’s the way my mind works.

***This makes them sound horrible. I know they never meant to do any damage, they just wanted what’s best for me, but when you are pushed to do better all the time it takes its toll. And I’ve seen it start to emerge in my brother too, I’ve talked to my parents about it and they’re trying to put less pressure on him now. I don’t want him to turn out like me.