Memories and places

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pondering

What if it’s turning toxic like before?

All I hear is “you’re not good enough” and “no one wants you” but I’m the only one saying it, to myself.

All the anger is still there and it gets taken out on others. It’s not fair.

This anger has to be dealt with. But how? Turning the anger on myself just exhausts me and I still can’t let it out the right way. I’m so angry all the time. It’s got to come out somehow. But safely. Somehow…

Imagine if people had to deal with the consequences of their actions, maybe then they wouldn’t be so evil. Maybe then they’d see what they are doing.

If you say something enough times it might become true. What if that’s true. Stop pushing him away.

But he’s not safe. Never safe.

No one is safe.

I don’t want to be alone but I don’t want to be with people either.

Feeling pretty gloomy.

 

I need to be more independent but I can’t do it. How do I do it?

After a long time of relying on people, the idea seems so crazy.

 

I want to help other people but I know I need to fix myself first.

Fix because I’m broken.

I don’t know how to be normal. I don’t know how to stop this whole thing.

There are so many things I want(ed) to do in life… now I just want to be happy.

Shame it’s not as easy as it sounds.

I’m so tired of fighting

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.

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…

Not safe

*possible trigger warning – it gets pretty negative.*

Every so often I seem to have these little panics…

I’m not safe. Nothing is safe. No one can keep me safe.

I have got too close to S and it scares me. He could leave like the ex did. Not safe. I caught myself thinking I should get away from him (S), I need to leave before he leaves, then it’s my fault choice. But Ellie you tried that one… you ended it before and felt worse than ever. 

I think maybe it’s about control. I can’t control how I feel and how I would feel if he left. I can’t control whether he leaves or not (that’s why I feel like I should leave first, then I’d be in control). 

I don’t know what is going to happen when I move to Germany. I can’t control it, I can’t plan it all. It’s new and big and scary. New language, new place, new people… What if I can’t handle it?*

It’s happened again… this downwards spiral. It was about one thing, and now it’s about EVERYTHING.

I just want to be safe.

I feel so low and I don’t really know why. Maybe I’m just thinking too much (as usual). When I feel like this I wonder if the progress I’ve been making is even real. My thoughts scare me. I just want to be safe, or at least I want control. I want it all to stop, it’s all too much. I want to die. I’m not safe here, how do I carry on? Sometimes I really think it would be easier if I wasn’t alive.** And the urge to hurt myself, punish myself for all this is strong. But it doesn’t help. I know it doesn’t help so why do I want to do it? It doesn’t solve anything.

*I know I’m not allowed to say “what if”, but I did anyway.

**Please do not read into this too much – these are thoughts and not plans, I know these feelings/thoughts will pass. 

Mammoth

MammothToday I was feeling pretty low. I have been feeling a bit funny physically for the last few days – lots of migraines/headaches, feeling a bit faint/light headed, feeling really really hot… that kind of thing. And a combination of feeling bad physically and mentally is never good.

So S said he would come over after work for a bit to see me and give me some cuddles to cheer me up. And he did.

We ate some strawberries and ice cream and had some cuddles and talked and it was really nice. It sounds pathetic but it’s the small things that mean the most. I love the fact that  S can just come round and he gets on with my family and it is relaxed and I don’t have to be on edge (like I was with the ex and my family).

And as you can see from the picture at the top of this post, I am now in possession of a new elephant (or more accurately – a mammoth!) S brought me it from work to cheer me up (as he knows how much I love elephants!) It is a little fluffy cuddly toy mammoth and I think he’s really cute! Only problem now is that I can’t think of a name (but I’ve decided it is a him), so feel free to give any name suggestions! 🙂

While we were cuddling and talking I said “Maybe you do actually love me”, because I’m finally starting to think maybe it’s true. Maybe not everyone will be like the ex, and maybe I’m not unlovable – maybe it wasn’t even my fault. And he laughed and said “At least it’s a maybe now.” I know it’s stupid that I am so scared of getting hurt and that I really find it so hard to believe that anyone could love and care about ME, but these are thoughts which have been programmed into my mind for a long time – with the ex, and even before that with the teasing/bullying (?)

I am feeling more determined than ever that I am going to get through this stuff, and I am not going to let the ex win or ruin any more of my life. I can and I will get through these problems. I can and I will succeed and be happy. I know I need to deal with the anger I still feel about everything that happened, but maybe I can use it positively, and use it as motivation and incentive to keep going and stay determined. I can and I will.**

I am so happy being with S, he makes me feel safe and loved and happy. And I love him, I really do and our relationship is so much better (now that I’ve finally allowed myself to feel that way instead of being too scared to get close.) I think my depression/anxiety/general craziness* definitely does affect our relationship but he copes pretty well, and he is very understanding and helping me get through my issues.

Time for bed now, but tonight I am going to bed feeling happy and safe, instead of anxious and scared and paranoid (like last night).

Good night,
Lots of love,

Ellie xxx

P.S. Here is another picture of my (nameless) mammoth!

Mammoth toy

* I hope this doesn’t offend anyone – here I am referring to my irrational thoughts and behaviours, which could definitely be called crazy rather than the mental health side of things.

** This is one of the mantras from my list, and this one often comes to mind. When I’m feeling low or like I can’t do something, I think to myself ‘I can and I will’ and I feel more in control, more determined and more positive.

Experimenting on Ellie

Today (yesterday now) was the last time that all of my housemates were together so we decided to go out to our student club in Lancaster for one last night. I have to say I was not massively looking forward to it, but as last night was quite good, and it was a chance to see everyone again, I decided to go (and having pre-bought a ticket was also encouragement to go!)

It just so happened that tonight was the night that we had guest DJs in our club – which doesn’t happen very often. It was Rudimental, and the tickets sold out way before the actual day. Obviously this was a recipe for disaster for me: loud music + smoke and flashing lights + LOADS of people = my idea of hell.

But I went, and hoped it somehow wouldn’t be too busy.

It was busy. Immensely busy! Everyone was crammed in like sardines in a tin, and it was boiling hot. But as I was there, I thought hey, let’s do an Ellie experiment here.

So I tried some mindfulness techniques – I tried to be aware of the present moment, I looked around at the exact situation I was in. I tried to identify escape routes, and decided that wasn’t really an option – something even worse than being squished would be being squished and lost! And I allowed myself to become aware of the panic I was feeling – the dissociation I was feeling, the fast heart beat, the increased breathing… and accepted this.

I told myself: I am safe, there is nothing that is going to hurt me here, and I can do this. And as time went on I accepted the current situation – I was surrounded by a lot of people, it was quite tightly packed, it was very hot and there was loud music, flashing lights and smoke… but none of this is actually dangerous. Especially as I was very fortunate to have my lovely housemate (Mr Maps) to try and keep a bit of space around me so I didn’t get too squashed!

And once I had done this, I wasn’t so scared anymore. And as time went on, I started to relax, and maybe became a bit desensitised to it all, and even started to enjoy it. 

I was very proud of myself for staying in there, I have run away in much less busy and calmer situations before, but not today. I stayed, I experimented, it paid off and I quite enjoyed it. It was a night where instead of constantly checking my phone to see if it was an acceptable time to leave, I was not the one to suggest leaving. And I stayed until 2:20, which may not be that late to most people, but considering there have been many times that I have left before 1:30, or even 1, I think it was a pretty successful night! 

So sometimes when you have the right people, the motivation to experiment, and more importantly, the right shoes*, things can turn out much better than expected, and you can do things you didn’t realise you could do.

So today turned into a pretty nice day. I also went to Morecambe with Mr Maps and Footballer earlier in the day. We went to the seaside, which was incredibly windy! And then we went bowling, (where I decided not to pursue a career in bowling) followed by a game of pool (where I decided definitely not to pursue a career in pool!) It was a really nice day, followed by a great evening with great people. I will really miss those two when I’m away in Germany… unfortunately my other housemate decided she had more important things to do and people to see to spend the day or evening with us, but we weren’t going to let her ruin this!

And now it is 3:45, I am sober and about to go to bed, and I just ate some yummy cake (that Footballer made for me as a leaving cake – it says “miss you” on it!) So now I am feeling pretty good, and I’ve decided that some people are worth the effort and some aren’t – and that’s ok.

Now time for lots of hours of sleep! – I definitely won’t be getting up early in the morning!

Lots of love,

Ellie xxx

*Tonight I decided to wear heels – my most comfortable ones. It was definitely a good move tonight because those extra 4 or 5 inches really helped me not to get too squashed in the crowd, and being only 4 feet and 11 and 3/4 inches tall at my natural height, I need all the help I can get!! Although, that aside – my feet are killing me now!

A realisation

As you might have read yesterday, I was not feeling like doing anything. Hiding felt like the best option. I went to CBT, and I’m glad I did. But still, when it got to the evening, I really didn’t want to go out.

It was raining, and people were dropping out left, right and centre, but I didn’t want to let my friend (Pres) down. Other people told me “If you don’t want to go just don’t go”, and that kind of makes sense. But I’d feel really bad – I had told Pres I was going, and helped her organise it, I couldn’t just not go! So I went.

On the way there I was thinking: Why are people so selfish? Why do people think it’s ok to let people down? Why don’t people seem to have any loyalty? And then I thought: Am I just too nice? Should I only do the things I want to do and screw other people’s feelings?

And then I thought: No, because that wouldn’t be me. 

(A lot of thinking went on in this 10 minute walk!)

But I came to the realisation that maybe I am “too nice”, and that means that sometimes I do things I don’t really want to do but I do it for other people. And sometimes it means that people take advantage of me, and I can get hurt easily (because it turns out that most people don’t do what I do.) BUT that’s just who I am. I care (sometimes too much) about other people, and I am very loyal. If I say I am going to do something, I will do it (unless there is a very good reason!) And even though I’m not “popular”, I have friends and sometimes people appreciate the fact that I’m always there. I remembered my birthday, which was in the middle of exams season… and so many people came. I was pretty surprised actually because I always think that people don’t care or notice me as much as I care for them, but people came to celebrate my birthday with me and it was great.

So, what I am saying here is that I have realised that it’s ok to be nice. And it’s ok to be me.

I realise this post may sound a bit strange. I am saying that I am a nice person, that might come across as arrogant or self-centred, but that’s not the way I mean it. I have always seen my caringness and willingness to help other people as a negative thing – and they do always say “being nice never gets you anywhere”, but I’m realising that’s not true. And so for once, I am going to be content to be me.

So what do you think? Is it good or bad to be “nice”? Is it good or bad to do things for other people? Is it possible to be too nice? I can see it from both perspectives now, but I can’t change such a central part of my personality, I just wouldn’t be me anymore.

And just as an end note, for my next post I am planning to compile a list of positive quotes, phrases and mantras, if anyone has any they want to add, feel free to comment (or email: anxiouselephant@hotmail.com) and I will of course give credit to the right people 🙂

Lots of love,

Ellie xxx

P.S. I forgot to mention – I actually had quite a good night in the end. There weren’t that many of us (about 10 when we expected around 30!) but it was nice to chat and dance together. In the club I got a bit panicky at some points – sometimes the loud music, the lights, the people and the smoke get too much. But I went outside for a few minutes and took some deep breaths. I even used a bit of mindfulness, focusing on the present moment. I said to myself – I am here, I am safe, nothing bad is going to happen. And it actually worked! – A would be proud! So even though I didn’t feel like going out at all, it was actually alright.

Come here – Go away

**Trigger warning – self harm thoughts**

A lovely blogger, Zoe, has been writing posts on the topic of boundaries this week, and having read them, I realised I have a lot of issues around this area.

One of the posts was on the difference between healthy and defensive boundaries. The bit that seems to be most relevant to me (at the moment anyway) is Split off boundaries. In particular, this bit:

  • Relationships are threatening both abandonment and invasion wise

  • It manifests as ‘come here, go away,’ indicating both a need for distance and closeness.

I realised that this is a MASSIVE problem for me. My boyfriend, S, has to put up with this all the time and it must be difficult for him (and confusing.) I seem to be sending mixed messages all the time – come here and go away. I’m so scared of being left/abandoned and I want him to be there for me (that’s the “come here” part) and at the same time I’m scared to be close because I don’t like relying on him (because he could leave me) so when I get scared I end up pushing him away (“go away” part.)

It’s very strange, but these things happen very naturally and I feel like I don’t have much control. For example I am terrified, and I mean TERRIFIED, that he’s going to find someone else and cheat on me/leave me for someone else (like the ex did.) I know it’s irrational, I know he wouldn’t hurt me like that. And more embarrassingly, I am terrified that he’s going to realise that one of our mutual friends (Sheep) is effectively a better version of me. We are very similar in personality, except she doesn’t have all of these “issues”, and she’s thinner than me… They went to the pub together last night and S didn’t bother to text me after work. He always rings me after work, but yesterday not even a text. And I’m so paranoid and jealous, and I don’t know why. Sheep is one of my best friends and I know that (even if S turned out to be a cheating idiot) she wouldn’t do that to me. And yet I worked myself up about it.

And so when I spoke to S last night (after I had had a couple of cocktails – probably a bad move) I was upset that he didn’t bother to text me. We ended up arguing about it, and as usual I created a massive negative spiral… You didn’t text me, that means you don’t care, you don’t love me, you’d rather be with Sheep anyway… I’m not good enough, you’re going to leave me… and on and on. And I told him I don’t want to be with him anymore. That’s not true, I just got scared. I wanted to leave before he left me, I can’t go through being left like that again.

It’s scary being with someone, letting them in. Because S could tear my world apart (if he wanted to.) He knows pretty much everything about me. I rely on him a lot too much and I hate myself for it. I feel like I need him. And I need constant reassurance because I don’t think I’m good enough. I don’t think I deserve to be loved. And it’s all scary because I could get hurt again. And I don’t think I could go through it all again.

Things have definitely gone downhill in the last few weeks. I think since around my birthday, I’ve become really scared, paranoid, jealous, clingy… everything I don’t want to be. And I can’t seem to stop. Even if I don’t say these things I go mad in my head thinking about them. Last night I had such a massive urge to hurt myself. And when I was walking home I thought about if someone came and killed me, it would be so much easier, and then it wouldn’t be my fault. I didn’t do anything but the thoughts were there, and they were strong. I haven’t been thinking like that recently so I definitely think this is a sign of things getting worse.

I don’t know how to control all of this. Come here, go away. I love you, I hate you. I want to be with you, I don’t want to be with you… It’s all a mess. And sooner or later he is actually going to get sick of it, and then I will be on my own.

Why can’t you get this into your thick skull Ellie?? He loves you that’s why he’s with you. That’s why he’s still there after nearly a year and a half. And he always tries to help, even when you’re acting irrationally. Why do you have to push away someone that really cares? Why can’t you be rational? Why can’t you be happy, you have everything.

You may have noticed my head is a bit all over the place at the moment. I don’t quite know why. But I’m going home today, just until Monday. S is meeting me at the station and I know I need to talk to him. I just don’t know what to say anymore, I’m so broken. I just want to feel safe.

Quiet and alone

For the first time since I got back to uni after easter, tonight I am alone in the house. Mr Map and Shopaholic have both gone home (they’ve already finished exams!) and Footballer is out with her boyfriend. She did invite me but I didn’t fancy being the 5th wheel (they are meeting up with another couple) and I kind of wanted a quiet night in.

I planned to revise statistics. I’ve done a little bit, not a lot. I’ve caught up on blogs and done some thinking. It seems so quiet being alone… That sounds so obvious but I mean quiet in terms of feelings too.

I feel kind of dull but emotional at the same time. A video I saw on someone else’s blog brought me to tears earlier, and it’s not even a sad video – more happy! And earlier today I was waiting for S to call on his break at work and I missed it (my phone was on silent since the exam) and I just burst into tears. The emotions are close to the surface, or the tears are at least. I feel kind of empty, dull… like everything isn’t real.

I’m going to get an early night because I have to hit the stats revision hard tomorrow. It’s odd when you spend hours cramming all of this information into your brain, try to recall it in a logical manner for 2 and a half hours (in the exam) and then try to forget it so you can learn the next lot. That’s the problem with exams, they don’t really test your understanding, it’s more about your memory. Except the essay, but then you need extra reading, and you’ve got to remember that so it’s still memory.

This has turned into quite a ramble, but I think it’s time for bed now. 

This time next week it will be my birthday and S will be here. That is what is getting me through this week, this revision, these exams. I can’t believe how much I miss him, just want him to hold me so I can feel safe. That’s what I was going to write a post on earlier, a list of things to look forward to, there are a lot – some a few days away, others months or years, maybe tomorrow I’ll write it – something to read over when things feel bad. 

It’s kind of peaceful, maybe this was what I needed tonight.

Lots of love,

Ellie xxx