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…

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.

Extreme moods

My moods seem to be so extreme and I hate it.

Things have been really good with S and I have allowed myself to care, to rely on him, to love him. I have been so happy and even started feeling like things aren’t going to go wrong (a big thing when your thoughts are generally as negative as mine!) But it scares me, it’s dangerous. Because last time I got hurt, last time my love got abused (by the ex.) And I can’t do it again.

And knowing that I’m going to Germany in just over a week, far away from S, is scary. I know I’m going to miss him. I’m scared that he’s going to forget about me (as irrational as that is.) I’m scared that things won’t work out because we won’t have the time to put in the work that a relationship needs. Recently I’ve been feeling like we’ll be fine, and feeling like I know he loves me, he’s not going to hurt me etc etc. But it’s this panic.

It’s the self-destructing part of Ellie that comes out when I’m scared. I get irrationally angry over nothing/everything. I push people away from me because I don’t want them to leave me. I can’t help it, I just seem to do it. And as much as I try to tell myself it’s stupid, it’s irrational, it doesn’t stop it.

Last night I found myself so angry, so upset, with no reason. I felt like breaking up with S, again with no reason. Even though I don’t want us to split up, he makes me happy. It’s just a defence mechanism but it’s not helpful, and I don’t know how to switch it off.

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!

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.

Trust

I’m really at a loss on what to do. My trust (or lack of it) is really becoming an issue. I just don’t trust S, even though he’s never done anything to make me not trust him.. he is kind and treats me well, we talk all the time, he doesn’t do anything wrong.

But I don’t trust him. I think it’s because of the ex (like most of my issues.) He treated me like crap, found someone else and left me. He lied to me, he hurt me, he made it impossible to trust. And now I don’t really trust anyone, and S gets the brunt of this.

I am constantly waiting for something to go wrong. He will get bored of me, or he will find someone else, or he’ll cheat on me or get fed up of dealing with this craziness… I am waiting for him to do something to prove me right – that I really am unlovable, that I don’t deserve anyone, that no one really cares and he doesn’t love me. 

And I know it’s insane. I know it’s paranoia and it’s completely irrational. But I just can’t stop. I don’t know how. And it’s pushing him away. The more I act like this, the more likely he is to do one of these things. If I’m constantly expecting him to mess up, maybe he will. Or maybe he’ll get annoyed. I know he finds it annoying that I am so paranoid, and it hurts him that I don’t trust him. 

And when I’m with him it’s the safest thing ever, but when we’re not together my mind just goes crazy. My overactive imagination goes into overdrive. I’m over-analysing everything he says and does. And I’m just waiting for something bad to happen. Because that’s what I deserve.

This relationship is so different to the one with the ex. It’s not all about sex. It’s not all about being controlled and lied to. It is safe and there is nothing wrong. But because of HIM, I don’t trust S. I just can’t. 

I really would appreciate any advice on this one. It’s taking a toll on me and the relationship. I’m so terrified of losing S and I want to stop pushing him away. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I just can’t switch this off. 

He mentioned going away on a climbing trip with a friend (as an example), a female friend. And would it bother me? Yes, yes it would. I’d be going out of my mind thinking something was going on with them. And I know this is really controlling and paranoid behaviour but I just can’t stop thinking about him being with someone else.

I need to get through this issue and I don’t know how. S has always been very patient with me about all of this, but it’s wearing him out, I can tell. He can’t keep on putting up with this, and it’s driving me mad. I don’t have the energy to keep this up. I want to trust him, and I know that he loves me, I just don’t think I deserve these good things, so I’m expecting them to go wrong.

I feel sick and I’m completely on edge. It’s nearly 1:30am and I should be asleep. I want to speak to S but it’s the middle of the night and I can’t imagine he would be too pleased with a phone call now. I just want this all to stop. I’m in such a state. It makes me feel so low and I’m just so scared.

Sometimes I think I should just end it with S (before he leaves me) because I can’t deal with this. I feel like I don’t have any control, I’d never know if he had cheated on me or if he lies to me. As many times as he tells me he never would, and as many times I make him promise he would tell me if he ever did cheat, I still don’t trust him. I just don’t trust people.

I just want to be happy. 

The end

It’s done, finished, over.
Today was the end of CBT for me.
It wasn’t a proper session, just a concluding one – questionnaires about the service, reassurance that if I need to come back after my year abroad I can.
Looking at a scale from 0 to 100, where 0 was the worst I felt, where am I now? And where is recovery?
No one feels good all the time so 100 is not recovery, It’s perfection (which doesn’t exist). We settled on 75 as acceptable – as recovery.
And where am I now? It’s hard to say because my mood varies a lot. I think I’m somewhere around 50ish, maybe up to 60 at times. But when I feel low it goes down a lot, not to 0 though, so its still not as bad as it was.
So take 55, and 75 is “recovered”… It’s not that far away.

I know I still have a long way to go and a lot of things to deal with along the way, but I’ve certainly made progress.
The fact that I’ve started some mindfulness shows improvement – mindfulness is not generally used for people who are severely depressed because it involves thinking about the negative thoughts, and would not be easy when someone is that low.
I still have my downs (and ups) but It’s better than a constant down.

Now I feel strange. CBT is done, over. It’s just me fighting my battles now, A has done her bit. I guess I was hoping by the end I would be magically better (100) but it didn’t happen because it doesn’t exist.

I feel kind of empty. Scared, and alone. Now what do I do? What if…

I can’t believe this was the last session, now it’s time to cope on my own.

CBT: Get up and get out!

No don’t worry – these were not words said by my therapist to me (or vice versa.) Yesterday I was feeling pretty down and really didn’t feel like doing anything. But my appointment was at 2pm, so having finally dragged myself up at about 1, I called a taxi and went to my CBT session.

And I’m glad I did, I felt a bit better afterwards. And once you’re up and about, things normally feel a bit better. If I stay in bed hiding all day, what have I achieved? Nothing. But by getting up and out and going to CBT, I have (hopefully) helped myself a bit. So that’s the advice: Get up and get out! 

I was pretty tearful in my CBT session yesterday – the realisation that it’s coming to an end is scaring me. Then I have to cope by myself!! I have 2 more sessions left, then I’m back home in London until September, and then the big move to Germany – eek! The fact that I won’t have A to speak to anymore is a bit scary, especially because I think the CBT is helping, but there’s still a lot that hasn’t been dealt with.

A said there are some things I am still not ready to deal with. She said in the future I will be and then I can have some counselling/therapy to help me deal with it. She said when I get back to Lancaster I can get re-referred if I need to.

A gave me another CD with some guided mindfulness meditations on it. There is one called Mindful sitting practise and one called 3 minute breathing space. I’ll write about these sometime this week when I’ve done them a few times.

We talked about the way the mind works (according to CBT.) We have the situation or event and the emotion/feeling, but inbetween there is the thought which triggers the emotion. So I am working on spotting the thoughts and seeing – is this a fact or a thought? This is of course easier said than done, but it’s work in progress.

We talked about my insecurity and constant fear about S leaving me. This is rational to some extent because my previous experience (with the ex) has shown me that people can leave me. However, this does not mean everyone will leave me, and it does not mean I am not good enough (which is the thought that goes with the event: ex leaving me and the feeling: depressed/lonely/scared.)

A has asked me to write down how I am feeling each half day, and more importantly the negative thoughts that come with the feelings. Then I can look at them and say – fact or thought? Do I have any evidence of this? The chances are, probably not!

The other thing I am meant to look at this week are when I have these thoughts that S is going to leave me. We have established that seeking reassurance doesn’t really help… it may help for a brief moment, but soon afterwards, the thoughts will be back. And I know they must be irritating for S, to constantly reassure me that he’s not going anywhere, he’s not going to hurt me, and yes he does love me. So the aim here is to identify these thoughts and look at them without engaging with them. Using mindfulness, the idea is to see the thoughts as thoughts (and not facts), not engage with them, and ignore them. But baby steps – this week I’ve just got to identify them as early as possible.

A used the analogy of the “thought train”… so once the thought comes into mind, it starts a trail of destruction, with each thought encouraging the next, until I’m in a massive negative spiral and I truly believe that S is going to leave me because I’m just not good enough. So instead of this, I should try to identify the thoughts early and get off the thought train. Another analogy was “putting on the same DVD”, so once you have had the thought (put the DVD on), the same thing happens (the same DVD plays) and it results in the same behaviour and feelings each time. So instead of letting the same thing play out each time, it is better to catch the thought early, and throw away that DVD 😉

Anyway, enough about DVDs and trains… me thinks this is more progress.

Oh – and A said she thinks if I use the mindfulness stuff we are learning and use the book I have bought (The Mindful Way Through Depression), I will be ok in Germany without any therapy. I hope she’s right! But I have my blog too, which I think is therapy in itself!