CBT – core beliefs

I mentioned a while ago that I was going to be having CBT as treatment for my chronic fatigue syndrome/fibromyalgia, and as I am now half way through the treatment, I thought I’d give a bit of an update on it.

At the beginning, we did a pie chart of my problems. Highly featuring were depression and fatigue, and others were migraines, pain and anxiety. It was interesting to get a view of how much each issue was affecting me, and how they all link together.

We have been looking at my core beliefs and rules for living, and have identified my negative core beliefs – “I am not good enough”, “I am unlovable”, and as a result, one of my rules for living is “if I please everyone, it means I am good enough and people will like me”

But the thing is, I can’t please everyone. It’s not physically possible. I know that this is a deep rooted thing, it was probably already there when I met the ex all those years ago. I always had the need to please my parents, hence my preoccupation with getting a first in my degree!

During my relationship with the ex, that rule kept me safe. I knew that not keeping him happy would have consequences so it was important to do so. But then I was with S, and I had the overwhelming need to please him, it made me anxious and it didn’t work. It just ended up with him frustrated that I couldn’t make decisions, and me exhausted from trying to guess what would please him. That rule is not useful to me anymore, now it’s unhelpful and keeps me anxious and stuck.

Being able to identify this kind of thing is really important. I think the CBT has been useful so far, but there’s still a long way to go and only 4 more sessions to do it in.

I plan to write more posts about different aspects of my CBT as I go along. For today, I’m going to get an early night as therapy can be quite tiring. Every time I walk into the room suddenly I can’t stop crying which is exhausting!

Love,

Ellie xx

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Safety net

Scared of being alone,

Missing the way you smile

And how you touched my hair

Wanting to be in your arms,

To be in my safe place with you.

Safety has gone now, I miss him. (I just re-read that sentence, when I wrote ‘him’, I meant S, but saying I miss safety and that S was safety to me is just as true.) I am doing ok most of the time but sometimes I get an overwhelming wave of sadness. Today it was while I drove home from work, tears streamed down my face. No trigger, just the feeling of loneliness, emptiness. I know that it is for the best, I would never have ‘grown up’ and taken responsibility for my own wellbeing if he didn’t leave me.

I am trying to take control of my life now; I made a bucket list for 2018, I have started my CBT for fatigue (will write a post on that soon), I am focusing on the amazing friends and family I do have and even reconnecting with some old friends. I am really trying my best but it’s hard because I am terrified that I will always be on my own.

I miss S and our stupid in-jokes and the stupid names we called each other. I miss lying in bed cuddling while we watched a film and feeling safer than I have ever felt. I can’t imagine getting that feeling again.

I am 24 and I know that is young and there’s time to meet someone, I know it doesn’t mean I will be on my own for the rest of my life, but I didn’t plan for this – I couldn’t have planned for this. My plans and expectations for the next few years down the drain – hopes of moving out and buying a property *flush*, hopes of marriage and children *flush* hopes of safety and love *flush*

Seeing other people with long term relationships is hard, I have hit the age where people are starting to move in together/buy a place together or get engaged/married. It just reminds me what I’ve lost and makes me panic that it’s going to be too late for me. I know it’s silly but that’s how my brain goes.

He was my safety net in so many ways, and now he’s not there, free-fall is a terrifying prospect. But what if I don’t fall? What if I can fly instead?

Love,

Ellie xx

Still trying

I don’t feel positive at all but I’m trying to be. I’m remembering how low my lows can be and it’s not good.

Somehow through it all I am getting stuff done. I see my friends, go to family events, turn up to work every day. Each evening is hard as I tend to feel worse then, more time to think.

I’m doing my ‘must keep busy so there’s no time to think’ thing and I know I will burn out eventually but right now I don’t see an alternative. I have a whole week off work over Christmas so will try to take it easy. I just need to make sure the thoughts don’t take over.

Let me end this post with a lovely quote. I read it in a book recently, it was a crappy chick lit book (I must confess I like them!) and I can’t even remember the name, but I remember the quote –

“The darker the storm, the brighter the rainbow”

Love,

Ellie xx

Dark place

Trigger warning: suicidal thoughts + self harm

I find myself in a very dark place. Everything that has happened these last few months has taken its toll. The work related stress, the fibro diagnosis, the break up, my grandma passing away… And even before any of that, my mood was creeping lower, after the 6 month period of being relatively stable. I feel guilty that the main thing on my mind is the break up. I desperately miss S, he is ignoring all contact with me, it hurts.

I don’t know what to do with myself. I can mostly put on a front when I’m out, when with friends or at work. At home the barriers are down, which to me indicate things are even worse… I am bursting into tears frequently. I told my parents I can’t cope. I’m a mess.

Although I’ve had thoughts of self-harm and suicide on and off for years, for the first time in years, I took a knife to my skin a couple of weeks ago and again today. It’s quite blunt so it doesn’t cut properly, more of a scratch, to make it sting. No danger, no drama.

The suicidal thoughts are scaring me now. They are getting more and more frequent and I find myself starting to make plans. If there was a way that I could do it without hurting others, I’d be gone. But there isn’t. That’s what I have to remind myself.

I’m in a dark place and I don’t know how to get out. I just need to try and stay safe for now, that’s the best I can do.

Love,

Ellie xx

Migraines: Things that help

Today I thought I’d share the things that help (me) when I have a migraine. I have chronic migraine, which means I have more than 15 days of migraine per month, luckily, some of the days it doesn’t get too bad, but the consultant said these are still migraines.

These things don’t always work, and are definitely more effective if I use them when I first feel the migraine coming on. If it goes to full blown migraine, the only thing I can do is take my meds, sleep and hope!

1. Migrastick

This little thing is great! It is peppermint and lavender oil in a glass tube with a roller ball. I put it on my temples as this is where my migraines start, sometimes I put it near my jaw or the back of my neck too as I often get migraines when I am stressed and clench my jaw. I wouldn’t say it makes a migraine go away, but it reduces the pain for me. And if I’m early enough, sometimes it does turn into a full migraine. Handy tip: don’t let it go anywhere near your eyes! It hurts! You can buy the Migrastick online or in shops like Holland & Barrett.

2. My migraine pillow

This sounds strange I know, but I have a pillow which i always use when I have a migraine. I have had the cushion forever, but I call it my “migraine pillow”. It is one that you can sink into and the cover stays quite cool. My regular pillow is quite firm so it is nice to have a soft pillow to sink into when my head hurts!

3. Mindfulness

Again, never going to stop a migraine, but if it is right at the beginning it can prevent it and if not it can reduce it a little. I know that a lot of my migraines are stress induced so that’s probably why mindfulness helps. It makes me focus on my breathing instead of the pain and I relax all my muscles. I am a very tense person and find this can cause more migraines, especially tension in the jaw, neck and shoulders. I use an app called Stop, Breathe and Think. I have talked about this before in my post about mindfulness – A month of mindfulness!  and Mindfulness: update

4. Sleep

Unsurprisingly, sleep is one of the things that helps most when I have a migraine. A dark, quiet room is best. I snuggle into my duvet, use my migraine pillow, maybe listen to a (quiet) mindfulness meditation, and hope that when I get up, the nasty migraine will be gone.

5. Medication

It would be a total lie not to mention medication on this list. I previously used medication too much due to the frequency of my migraines, so now I have to be careful about when I take it. My doctor said a maximum of 10 times per month so I am sticking to that. I have become a good judge of when I need the medication (when it reaches 6/10 in pain) and when it is manageable without medication. I take sumatriptan, a medication available on prescription, and it is incredible. It usually works in less than an hour for me!

I hope this might help some others, as I am fully aware of how debilitating migraines are. I’ve had them since I was about 13 and the frequency has continued to increase as I’ve got older. I will being seeing the migraine consultant again this week so may have another update soon!

Do you have any tips or things that help you with migraines? Let me know as I’m always looking for new things to try!

Love,

Ellie xx

Realisations and pain

I feel so broken. I’ve come to lots of realisations this week about my behaviour and my relationship with S.

I took him from granted. I relied on him way too much, to the point that I can’t regulate my emotions myself. I can’t self soothe because I never had to. And that dependency was something I learned from my previous relationship, the ex really broke me down so I lost all my confidence and ability to look after myself. That’s a long time ago now but it still has its effects. He wanted me to be dependent on him because that’s how he controlled me. Unfortunately I transferred this dependency onto S and I never realised until this week how serious and negative that was.

It’s hard for me to know what to do now; I feel lost. I don’t have a very good sense of self (another thing to thank the ex for!) I find it hard to know who I am and I tend to define myself by my relationships (a daughter, a sister, previously – a girlfriend) and my job, because I don’t know how else to do it. So now one of my major identities is gone, lost.

Unfortunately I think it’s one of “those too little too late” moments or “you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone” type things. I would give anything to turn back time and deal with things differently, but I can’t so I am going to have to live with it and try and learn from it.

I know my faults – I am very emotional and not good at regulating emotions, I get angry and lose control of my temper, I overreact and I get carried away with my thoughts, making up explanations which are usually wildly wrong. I put myself down constantly and have no confidence, I rely on others for my happiness. I pushed S away, and yet pulled him back, over and over (my therapist described it as the “I hate you. Don’t leave me” phenomenon). And all of it makes sense given my history, but none of it is S’ fault. None of it can be changed by anyone but me.

There is so much work for me to do on myself. Work I was hoping to continue while in the relationship with S, but plans have changed and I’m on my own now to work it all out. I’m glad that I’m still having counselling as this is helpful. I need to work on myself so that I never end up in this ridiculous situation again.

Feeling quite reflective today. Now it’s time for bed.

Love, Ellie xx

And then I remember

I see things that remind me of you,

A meme, and I go to tag you,

A bad day, and I go to tell you,

Then I remember, I can’t anymore.

The pain is intense and it burns inside,

I go to sleep crying again and again,

I wake up feeling like everything is ok,

Then I remember, you left.

People say time heals everything,

They tell me things happen for a reason,

But I lost you and now I’m lost,

And then I remember the good times.

The happy memories we shared

Still bring a smile to my face,

They still make me laugh like they did,

And then I remember, there won’t be any more.

The evolution of my depression

When I first got diagnosed with depression and anxiety, it was very much trauma related and I had flashbacks, nightmares, the whole shebang… (there were also mentions of PTSD from the Psych, which I am sure I did have). I was lost and depressed and I didn’t know who I was. My abusive relationship had taken my identity and confidence and buried them somewhere far far away. 

Fast forward over 6 years to today, I have dealt with a lot of the trauma. I still get triggered occasionally, but not multiple times a day like previously, and now I can walk down the street at home without being scared, and I can drive past the road sign that says the place name where he lived… all that “normal” stuff that used to be so hard and triggering for me. 

Now I have a different problem, my migraines and pain and fatigue have spiralled out of control. I wouldn’t say my depression ever completely went, but it was much more manageable, now I find a lot of my negative thoughts and depression and anxiety are around the pain/fatigue.

 I feel hopeless because I know that neither my migraines or fibro are curable (the consultants are aiming to help me reduce rather than cure the migraines, and to manage the pain and fatigue of fibro.)

Some days when the pain is bad or the migraines are bad and persistent, I find myself questioning the point of my life. Sometimes I feel like there’s no way I want to live like this for another 60+ years. 

My biggest fears are now that I won’t be able to do things. This week has been hard, it has taken everything I have to get to work and do my job, and it’s only Wednesday. It makes me wonder how long I will be able to work full time for? How long before I have to give up my dream of being a clinical psychologist (training, if I ever get into it, would be intense and fulltime – balancing placements, studies and research)? I am going on a really exciting trip next year with the scouts, and I am terrified that I won’t be able to actually go. The aim of the trip is to build a large structure so will involve a lot of physical activity and it is at altitude.

Clearly I am not feeling very positive today. Some days I do, most days I don’t. It is hard for me to accept the way that my conditions are affecting my life, and that they will always affect me. I always had the hope the one day I would overcome my anxiety and depression, but this is different, I know that this won’t go away. And actually even my psychiatrist said that we are working to manage my symptoms as I have chronic depression. Pretty crap.

Ok, negative post done. I am working on something more positive which I hope to post in early December – I am trying yoga this month. Also, I have a physio appointment tomorrow and they are going to give me an exercise plan for graded exercise therapy as treatment for fibro. I’m really hoping it will be helpful! Will probably write a post about it to keep you updated!

Love, 

Ellie xx

 

The evolution of my depression

When I first got diagnosed with depression and anxiety, it was very much trauma related and I had flashbacks, nightmares, the whole shebang… (there were also mentions of PTSD from the Psych, which I am sure I did have). I was lost and depressed and I didn’t know who I was. My abusive relationship had taken my identity and confidence and buried them somewhere far far away. 

Fast forward over 6 years to today, I have dealt with a lot of the trauma. I still get triggered occasionally, but not multiple times a day like previously, and now I can walk down the street at home without being scared, and I can drive past the road sign that says the place name where he lived… all that “normal” stuff that used to be so hard and triggering for me. 

Now I have a different problem, my migraines and pain and fatigue have spiralled out of control. I wouldn’t say my depression ever completely went, but it was much more manageable, now I find a lot of my negative thoughts and depression and anxiety are around the pain/fatigue.

 I feel hopeless because I know that neither my migraines or fibro are curable (the consultants are aiming to help me reduce rather than cure the migraines, and to manage the pain and fatigue of fibro.)

Some days when the pain is bad or the migraines are bad and persistent, I find myself questioning the point of my life. Sometimes I feel like there’s no way I want to live like this for another 60+ years. 

My biggest fears are now that I won’t be able to do things. This week has been hard, it has taken everything I have to get to work and do my job, and it’s only Wednesday. It makes me wonder how long I will be able to work full time for? How long before I have to give up my dream of being a clinical psychologist (training, if I ever get into it, would be intense and fulltime – balancing placements, studies and research)? I am going on a really exciting trip next year with the scouts, and I am terrified that I won’t be able to actually go. The aim of the trip is to build a large structure so will involve a lot of physical activity and it is at altitude.

Clearly I am not feeling very positive today. Some days I do, most days I don’t. It is hard for me to accept the way that my conditions are affecting my life, and that they will always affect me. I always had the hope the one day I would overcome my anxiety and depression, but this is different, I know that this won’t go away. And actually even my psychiatrist said that we are working to manage my symptoms as I have chronic depression. Pretty crap.

Ok, negative post done. I am working on something more positive which I hope to post in early December – I am trying yoga this month. Also, I have a physio appointment tomorrow and they are going to give me an exercise plan for graded exercise therapy as treatment for fibro. I’m really hoping it will be helpful! Will probably write a post about it to keep you updated!

Love, 

Ellie xx

 

In denial? 

Since diagnosis in August, I’ve gone through a whole range of emotions about fibromyalgia… disappointment, anger, depression… but today I want to talk about denial. 

Let me start by saying this is just how I am feeling and does not reflect the situation anyone else is in. I am not in any way saying that people who (like me) are able to function quite well do not have fibro, but I just wanted to write about my concerns about myself. 

I know that I get pain. I know that’s not normal. I know the level of tiredness I experience isn’t normal either. 

But 

(And there’s always a but)

I sometimes feel like (and today is one of those days) I am able to do too much for someone with fibromyalgia. I work full time (and have been working over fulltime since April – left my 2nd job yesterday to go ‘down’ to fulltime) and I manage to do a lot of things like being a scout leader and dog walking. 

Shouldn’t I be stuck at home if I have fibromyalgia? It can’t be “that bad” if I am able to do these things. 

What if it isn’t fibromyalgia and I’m just making a big fuss. 

Everyone else I have come across with fibro has it much worse than me, so what if mine isn’t real? 

I know I have a diagnosis now but today I feel like it’s not valid. 

Tomorrow I have a hospital appointment with the pain and fatigue CBT team, I am interested to see how that goes. 

Feeling a bit funny at the moment. I think part of me wants the diagnosis to be wrong, and part of me just doesn’t feel like my experience is valid enough for the diagnosis… maybe I’m just in denial?

Love,

Ellie xx