Long distance

Sometimes long distance relationships can be really hard. Recently things have not been great with S and I, and this was definitely not helped by the distance and the time difference (even though it’s only one hour, it makes a difference when he works into the evenings.)

But he came to visit for a few days and I was really nervous. I was worried that we wouldn’t be able to fix the problems that had developed, I was worried that it was going to be over. And I knew that if we split up, things would never be the same again. I mean, we could be friends, but we’d never have the friendship we had before our relationship, and I would miss that a lot.

So we talked. And we listened to each other. It sounds simple but sometimes people forget to communicate properly, and then it gets to the point that you only hear what you expect to hear, and you interpret it in ways that aren’t always right.

So we talked, we explained what had been going on. I explained that I’m lonely here, that no one from home seems to have time for me anymore, and that I don’t know many people here. He saw my town, and that there’s really not a lot to do here. And he explained that he needs some space, and it feels like I’m always nagging him and waiting for him to reply. It’s difficult because in England we phone each other a lot, for example he often rings me on the way to or from work, whereas now we can’t phone because it would cost too much. We use Whatsapp to text, but it’s not the same, and often arguments are caused by misunderstandings about texts… you can’t convey tone, sarcasm etc over text message.

I think we just expected it to work. It was fine when I was in Lancaster, so why wouldn’t it be when I’m in Germany? I’m still away, no difference. But there is a difference, and it’s harder than we expected. And it needs work, we can’t just bob along without putting effort into it.

I feel so much better now that we’ve talked about everything and sorted things out. I had such a lovely few days with S, going to see different things (including Christmas markets which are always fun!!) and it was like none of the arguments had happened. I feel like he does love me, and that is a pretty big step, as before I always felt like it wasn’t true.

Basically, things were bad, and now they’re good. I hope we’ll be better at keeping things good now, because I’ve still got quite a few months left out here. I will be home for Christmas, but then probably not again until Easter.

Since S went home, I haven’t been sleeping as well. I think I feel safe when I sleep next to him because he always hugs me, and now I’m on my own again I’m missing that. Had some horrible nightmares too, relating to the ex. Hopefully it’ll all die down soon, because I don’t want to have to deal with nightmares and sleepless nights, I’ve got a life to live here!!

Now off to do some German work about the passive tense… Lucky me!

Lots of love,

Ellie xxx

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So tired

Constantly. So tired.

It’s been like this for a long time. I can’t even remember NOT being tired. But some days I’m completely knackered, like today. An early night is needed I think.

I asked at the doctors if there’s anything they can do about constant tiredness. She said 9 times out of 10 it’s something psychological rather than physical so there’s probably not a lot they can do. She said I can have a blood test to check, but it’s unlikely that there’s a chemical/physical cause. I’ve already been checked for anaemia and I didn’t have it last time, so I doubt I’ve developed it now.

But it’s mentally draining, being tired all the time. I never feel like I’m functioning the way I could if I wasn’t tired. But no amount of sleep seems to help. I kind of expected that once I started feeling better (like I have been over the last few months), this constant tiredness would go away. But no, of course not. I want to be able to live to my full potential, instead of being a walking zombie all the time!

Oh – and don’t even get me started on the dark circles under my eyes. They are horrible. And very dark. My dad always calls it “panda eyes”, and yes I definitely do have panda eyes – no amount of concealer can hide them! I’m very self-conscious about this too, but there’s not a lot I can do except put concealer on and hope for the best.

I’ve just had a thought, and I’m fairly sure this is quite a repetitive post, I’m sure I’ve written about this before. But I’m STILL tired, so I’m writing about it again.

It’s not too bad though – at least I can sleep, even if it doesn’t stop me being tired. In the months where I couldn’t sleep properly, it was HORRIBLE. I dread to think how hard it must be for people with insomnia. The feeling of being so tired, and wanting to sleep, and not being able to is so frustrating. I can remember getting really wound up and angry with myself for not being able to sleep, but of course that only makes the problem worse because when you’re stressed, you can’t sleep. Nasty cycle.

It would be great, really really great, if I could get a good night’s sleep. And by that I mean sleeping all the way through the night, no waking up, no nightmares, no screaming, crying or any of that strange stuff. Wouldn’t it be lovely…

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.

Don’t want to jinx it but…

Things are going well. Really well at the moment.

I’ve moved to the town where my school is where there is a bit more civilisation and I’m starting to settle in. I really like my new flat, and I’m enjoying my job in the school too. Everyone has been so friendly towards me and it really does make a difference, without that I would be very lonely here.

I would say at the moment I am not depressed. I still have my down days (doesn’t everyone?) and I know there are still lots of issues, but I’m working on it. I am starting to catch my thoughts and challenge them. For example, Sheep cancelled our Skype meeting because she was going out (last minute decision), my initial thought was “she doesn’t want to talk to me because I don’t matter to her. She doesn’t like me.”, but I recognised that and challenged it: Why wouldn’t she want to talk when she is one of my closest friends? I know she cares about me because she is always there for me, and she made me a lovely cake and leaving card when I left England.

That’s a shallow example, but just shows how one tiny thing sets my mind off on it’s negative thought train, and how my self-doubt puts a lense over how I see things.

The only negative I have to report at the moment is the screaming/nightmares. I was on a school trip last week and shared a room with another teacher. Apparently one night I screamed once, cried multiple times, and talked to her (although I have no recollection of this – I was asleep!) It’s really strange, and in that case it was quite embarrassing – I’ve only been here a few weeks, and they don’t know about any of my “issues”. Luckily the teacher was ok about it and didn’t really question me. But this makes me wonder how often it does happen, as nearly every time I’ve shared a room with someone over the last few months I have screamed or something similar. Except with S… I’ve only screamed once in the night with him, and sometimes mumbled the odd scared whimper, but in general I don’t tend to have these nightmares when I’m with him. Maybe it’s because I feel safe? Who knows.

I want to go to the doctors about this when I go home (to England) but I don’t know if there’s anything they can actually do about it, and if there isn’t then I don’t want to waste their time. Does anyone know of anything that helps stop these night terrors (or whatever they are!?) or even what can cause them? Then maybe there are things I could change to prevent them!

But despite that, things are really falling into place at the moment – and hopefully they will stay this way. I am starting to feel like there is a way through my “issues”, and it will take more time, but I can do it. Recently I have caught myself having positive thoughts, and tonight on Skype I even told S “I’m happy here.” I mean I miss him – a lot, and my friends and family too, but I am still in touch with them all so it’s not too bad, and I know I’m going home for a visit in a couple of weeks, but everything is going well. When I first found out I was coming here, to this small remote town, I was really upset, really worried, but now I’m glad I’m here. And the small place has given me the opportunity to get to know people more easily, and also the opportunity to speak lots of German, as in a small place like this people don’t speak much English (compared to in a big city where a lot of English would be spoken!)

I hope I’m not jinxing things by writing this post. I have held off writing this positive post for a while – just in case it turned things bad! But here it is – a positive post from Ellie!

Now I’m off to bed, and tomorrow I get a lie in as it’s a national holiday tomorrow so there’s no school!

Lots of love,

Ellie xxx

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.

Why is it so hard to talk about?

Why is it so hard to talk about the “difficult things”?

I can write about them sometimes. I can plan what I’m going to say, I have the words in my mind but they don’t come to my lips. I can’t say them.

I’ve been having a lot of nightmares recently. Screaming in my sleep again while Footballer was staying. A week or two ago, S said I kept asking where I was, saying I want to be at home (in my sleep.)

A lot of the time I don’t remember the nightmares. Sometimes I wake up scared and don’t know why. Sometimes I just know I had a nightmare, and sometimes they are so vivid. I feel like I’m being haunted by these images. But it’s all too hard to talk about, the words just don’t come out.

The nightmares that week involved the ex. Raping me. And it all felt so vivid.

I was really really scared and anxious for days. I started writing this post not long after the nightmares but I couldn’t find the words time. I eventually managed to tell S that the nightmare involved the ex “making me do stuff.” But that’s as much as I could say, and even that took a long time.

So why can’t I say these difficult things? Like when I’m feeling suicidal, I can’t tell anyone, I just say “I feel low” or “I feel shit.” When in my head I’m screaming “I just want to die!” And when I’m talking about the ex, I can never explain what it was like. I can say he wasn’t nice to me, or that he treated me badly but it’s difficult for me to say more… it’s like I’m ashamed that I let it happen… How messed up is that? He treats me horribly and abuses me, and I’m the one that feels guilty and ashamed?

I try to tell S these difficult things sometimes. Often I just can’t say it, and he doesn’t understand why I’m crying or on edge or scared in the night. Sometimes I end up texting things because I couldn’t say it on the phone. The words stick in my throat and it’s like someone presses mute and I can’t speak anymore.

But I don’t want to be muted.

I have depression and anxiety and it’s hard. Most of the time I don’t look like anything is wrong with me but there is. I am very jumpy and I get scared and upset easily. And it’s not my fault. It is an illness and I don’t want to feel ashamed anymore. These things are just labels and they don’t make me who I am, but they do affect who I am and sometimes I can’t deal with everything that a “normal” person can. I think more needs to be done to raise awareness about mental illness because people don’t understand it – they can’t see it so they think it’s not there.

Since I’ve been writing this blog I have come across a lot of mental health bloggers, all telling their different stories. Sometimes they are difficult to read because people have suffered so greatly, but they are all strong people and we all have things in common so we can support one another. And all of this makes me even more sure that I want to work in mental health. I want to make a difference.

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!)

A collection of things

A few things:

– One month, 31 (or 30) days… until I’m off to Germany!!

That is scary stuff, scary and exciting!

– And today I got my laptop back, so I will be back to posting more and hopefully will see everyone’s posts as I am not relying on the WP app anymore (which seems not to put all posts on the reader!)

– I am still feeling quite motivated and happy(!) at the moment, despite…

– Last night I slept really badly because I kept having nightmares. They are not the usual really horrible type of nightmares, I can’t remember most of them, and a lot of them are just strange! (Like a dream featuring my house being full of cats!) After one last night, which I can’t really remember what happened but I know my family and I were in danger, I woke up with a racing heart, panicky. I have to confess I turned the light on and slept with the light on for a while because I was feeling very distressed and anxious (although I don’t quite know why.)

– And now I’m off to work!

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 6*

Today I went to my CBT session, and if you read my post yesterday, you’ll know I was feeling very anxious and scared about it, and really didn’t want to go. I decided to be kind to myself and got a taxi instead of walking up that massive hill for a change!

As suggested by some of you here (being the lovely and helpful people that you are!) I spoke to A about it, and told her that I had really struggled with writing down the memory, and about the flash backs, nightmares and screaming in the night.

She said we will wait a bit longer before we start the trauma work. In a way I am disappointed because I wanted to get it over with, but I am also relieved because I think it probably was too soon, and I probably wouldn’t have been able to deal with it very well at the moment. So instead we are looking at the thoughts which come with the feelings.

CBT says that thoughts cause feelings which cause behaviours, so in order to change feelings and behaviours, we have to change the thoughts. And that means starting by identifying the thoughts which cause the feelings. For example, I may think “I am useless” (thought) which will cause me to feel down (feeling), so I hide in bed (behaviour).

I need to become more aware of my thoughts so that I can start to counteract them with evidence. And realise that they are only thoughts, so they don’t have to be right.

A gave the example that even if I think about her crashing her car on the way home, it won’t cause it to happen! I said “That’s not very nice!” 

We will look at the thoughts that I identify, and test them, to see if there is evidence for them. It all sounds very scientific! 

I did some crying in my session (as usual) and A also said she thinks we need to look at the anger as well. As well as feeling upset/hurt/sad about the memories, I am also very angry. Angry at myself, angry at him, angry at anyone who didn’t do anything to help. 

Also this week I will be seeing my GP (tomorrow) and the psychiatrist (on Thursday) so it’s a very busy week for appointments! I am really hoping that the psychiatrist will be able to make the right diagnosis/es and hopefully work out the right medication for me! Although I’m pretty sure that he will say I have anxiety, depression (as previously diagnosed) and PTSD (which has been suggested but not diagnosed).

I asked A about my mood swings and tried to explain that even when I am feeling horrific, and at my lowest I normally manage to do things that I have committed to, like going to lectures, but that doesn’t mean I am ok, and it doesn’t mean I take anything in! I know that part of what they measure how bad things are on is your functioning level, but even though I appear to function, I’m really not. My memory and concentration are appalling, and I sit in lectures without listening to a word half of the time. She said that I need to make sure I tell the psychiatrist all of this, and that he will understand where I am coming from. Apparently he is very good** and is nice, so hopefully it will go ok on Thursday. I just want things to be sorted out and to start making progress.

So all in all, today was a difficult but kind of helpful session. AND afterwards I took the decision to go home and rest instead of going to class because I need to start looking after myself and stop doing things just because I “should”. 

*There was no week 5, in case you’re wondering where that went!

**Well I should hope so too!