A month of mindfulness! 

I think I have mentioned before that I use mindfulness meditation to help me manage my anxiety/depression/stress etc. 

Today I am really proud to say, I did mindfulness meditation every day in October! I try to do one in the morning before I get up and one before I go to sleep, just 5 minutes each time. I have been doing mindfulness on and off for a long time, but 31 days is the longest I have ever done in a row (32 now as I am carrying on into November!)

I use an app called Stop, Breathe and Think, it has a variety of different meditations, I tend to use the “welcoming the day” and “falling asleep” ones mostly, but there are lots of different ones. My favourite one is probably “relax, ground and clear” because the second half of it is about imagining you are on top of a mountain, and I find that really relaxing. 

There are lots of other mindfulness apps too – Headspace is another good one. You can also find meditation CDs in charity shops or MP3s online, lots of options!

Some days I struggle through my meditation, my mind keeps drifting away and I long for the gong to mark the end of it. Other days, when it finishes I feel like a weight has lifted. But I am persevering, and I want to extend it a bit and do some longer meditations. 

My 5 top tips for meditations would be:

1. Stick with it. You may feel silly at first. You may struggle to keep your mind on the words. But keep trying and in time you can learn to engage with your breath and focus on the current moment. 

2. Make it a routine. Now I know that when my alarm goes off in the morning, the first thing I do is put a meditation on. Whenever you choose, stick to that time every day and before you know it you will have a habit!

But…

3. Don’t stress if you miss a day. I am guilt of this one! In the past, if I missed a day I lost my motivation and would forget about mindfulness for a while. The app I use keeps track of the number of days in a row that you meditate, it’s great to see how many in a row I have done, but I have now learned to accept that sometimes I will lose my streak, I can just start again.

4. Leave your expectations to one side. Mindfulness is all about being in the moment, and instead of engaging with every thought you are meant to acknowledge the thoughts without judging them, and let them pass. It’s the same with expectations – maybe you think it’s a load of rubbish and won’t make a difference? Put that to the side and give it a try. Maybe you’re hoping it will change your life and be your saviour? Put that to the side too. The likelihood is that mindfulness is either of those extremes, but it might give you something positive. 

5.  Find something that suits you. When I started trying mindfulness I tried a lot of different apps. They all have different styles, different voices, different accents, different types of meditations. I think it’s really important that you find a voice you can engage with as it would be difficult to fully connect to the meditation if you are constantly thinking how annoying the voice is! 

Let me know if you give it a go! Does mindfulness help you?

Love,

Ellie xx

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Ouch

This week I have had migraines 4 days in a row. I am limited on the number of times per month I can take medication so this worries me. I had to leave work at lunchtime today because it got bad. 

I am fed up of my bloody migraines. I get about 20 days per month of migraines/headaches now which is ridiculous!! So far this month I have had 10 (out of only 13 days)

I feel completely exhausted and I am aching all over. But at least (for now) the migraine has gone. The pain is weird. My limbs feel very heavy and today it hurts to pick things up. I went to get a glass out of the cupboard earlier but it hurt to raise my arm. I get a weird sensation like my feet are on fire, and they go all tingly. Then I get random bursts of pain in different areas of my body. 

 Being in pain really brings my mood down. It makes me feel like there’s no point and it worries me that one day I might not be able to do the things I want to do, or things I take for granted now like taking the dog for long walks, going to work etc. 

I am struggling with sleep at the moment too. Going to bed later, taking longer to get to sleep, waking in the night. 

It just all feels too much right now. Hoping I will get a good nights sleep and tomorrow I will be in less pain. Hoping for a migraine-free day! 

Sorry for writing a post just to moan about things. Just needed to let it out. 

Love,

Ellie xx

Therapy 

I had a therapy session yesterday, the first one for about 4 weeks because I was away and then she was away. Since I last saw her, a lot has happened – I got diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I went sky diving, my anxiety has got worse, my depression has got worse etc etc. 

It was good to talk. It was good to be completely honest and open instead of wondering and worrying about how she would react, what she would think of me. I’m glad and I know I’m lucky that I have reached this feeling of trust with my therapist. I don’t filter my words and thoughts in that room. There’s no expectation. I told her I’m feeling rubbish. I feel low, lonely, angry, disappointed, hopeless…. all of this negativity. And she doesn’t tell me I should be grateful for what I have or tell me it’s going to be ok. She sits with me in the shit and she’s just there, listening, understanding. 

After last nights session, I had the best sleep I’ve had in probably about a month (coincidence, I think not!) I felt a sense of relief, an ability to breathe properly when I left. I needed to get things out. 

I cried and it was hard. And I named difficult things which I didn’t used to be able to do. I used to clam up and not be able to talk when things were hard, but now I can say them even if it’s through tears. 

Without a doubt I know therapy has helped me massively, and it still is. I can see that I have made a lot of progress, and even though my mood has done a nosedive since May and is showing no signs of improving, it helps to talk about it, and I’m not in the dark place I once was. 

I am currently en route to the middle of nowhere for my hike, so won’t be writing for a few days. When I get back I’m going to write a series of blog posts on things that help. (One of them will be on bullet journals, I imagine I’ll write one on therapy at some point.) I’ve already started writing the posts so I’m excited to share my experiences with you, and hoping maybe some of the ideas will help others too. 

Love,

Ellie xx

Fatigue 

Heavy limbs

Droopy eyes

Aching neck, shoulders, arms, legs, feet

Complete exhaustion

Disconnected

Pain 

Everything feels like lead, heavy and useless

So tired

Longing for glorious sleep 

But it doesn’t matter 

I wake up

One o’clock

Three o’clock

Four o’clock

And it goes on

And then I wake up and do it all again 

Struggling with my fatigue and aches at the moment. Really affecting my mood and ability to do things properly 

Let’s hope for better sleep tonight!

Love,

Ellie xx

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…

And down

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I wish it was that easy.

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

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

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

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

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!

One of those days

Last night I went to bed early, really early. Why? Because I felt I’ll and because I was meant to be at work at 7am this morning.

So my alarm went off at 6 this morning, I got up, had breakfast bla bla bla… Drove to work. And my name was not on the rota. The guy who sorts out the rotas wasn’t there, so I drove home and went back to bed. Not a happy bunny (or elephant!) this is not the first time they’ve mucked up my hours. I was meant to be working Wednesday this week and they took that one off (but I knew in advance) and now they take away my other day of overtime, and don’t bother to tell me! So angry about this. And I could do with the money so it’s really not ideal.

One good thing is that I got to go back to bed for a few hours, still not feeling well today. I’ve brought out the lemsip max! But still very angry about this whole work thing, they keep messing around with my hours, and considering I was told the want me to work 30 hours a week, 8 or 16 just isn’t cutting it for me!

I’m working tomorrow and Sunday, but that’s it for this week. Highly irritating that there’s barely any overtime and there’s nothing I can do about it! Grr!

So to conclude: my immune system is crap and my manager at work (well one of them) is crap.

I got upset at work this morning. After getting up that early especially when I was feeling ill, it was all a bit much and I couldn’t stop the tears leaking out of my eyes. But I’m more angry than upset… I often cry when I’m angry. I cry when I’m sad too, but it’s annoying when I cry from anger because I look like I’m overreacting and being upset over nothing.

I’m off to see S this afternoon, maybe he will be able to cheer me up (and hopefully I won’t make him ill too!)

Lots of love,
Ellie xxx
P.s. the other day S said I’m an anxious little elephant… And he doesn’t know the name of my blog! Spooky or what!?

Just a little post

Hi everyone,

I am back from my trip to Amsterdam which was lovely (more details to come soon in a dedicated post!)
Unfortunately my laptop is currently away being repaired so I can only get to wordpress from my iPad. I don’t mind reading blogs on here but I prefer writing my posts on a laptop really (not sure why) so this is just a short catch up post! My laptop should be back at the end of next week so then I can get back to my regular posts! But this week there might be a couple of posts if I can deal with using the iPad for it (the app does seem to have improved recently actually!)

Things are a bit wobbly over here… I’m fine but have been feeling very low for the last few days, with no real explanation. I think part of it is nerves about Germany, and then there is the “normal” ups and downs of depression anyway. I am going to see the doctor on Thursday but I doubt she can do anything – no time for therapy before Germany and I think I’m already on the max dosage of my medication… Hopefully my mood will lift soon. I was fine/good while I was away, and my mood always seems better when S is around (as pathetic as that is!) but everyone has ups and downs, so hopefully things will feel better soon.

This started off as a short post but now I’ve started I suddenly have lots to say!
The last few days I have spent most of the days in bed (not good!) but I managed to go climbing on Sunday which was fun (even if I’m still aching now, more than 2 days later!) Today after a morning in bed, I actually got a few things done – applied for my new passport and started the massive task of unpacking/tidying/clearing out my room… (Despite the fact I’ve been home for a month now, I had been putting it off!) it’s looking a lot better already and I know I will feel better with a tidy room!

There’s lots to do in the next few weeks before I leave for Germany… All very exciting and scary but I am really hoping this year is going to be good for me. S says he thinks it will help me as I will have to be more independent and I will see that I can do stuff by myself. A year off from exams will be lovely too!

Anyway that’s enough of my rambles I think… I feel as if I should change the title now as its a bit of a lie… But never mind.

Good night world,
Lots of love,

Ellie xxx