Stepping out of my comfort zone

Today my boyfriend had a day off, which is very unusual for a Saturday. We went for a walk this morning and then did a bit of shopping, went for dinner and then met up with his work friends. Let me first say, his friends are lovely and they always make me welcome. 

But I feel very anxious about being around lots of people, especially when I don’t know them very well. So we were going to a pub in central london on a Saturday evening, I knew it would be busy. 

Yesterday I said I might not go to the drinks in the evening. Today I decided I’d see how I felt and then decide. When we arrived at the drinks I said I would leave after about an hour. 

I actually stayed for over two hours. And I had a nice time. Yes I felt a bit anxious at first and I am bloody knackered from all the walking I’ve done today, but I enjoyed the evening and I’m glad I went. 

I guess the point of this post is to say I am trying to push my comfort zones. And it’s a good thing to do. I always put in my safety mechanisms, for example I took my car home before we went into london so that I could leave the drinks earlier than my boyfriend if I wanted to (I did and he’ll probably be out most of the night) and that helps with anxiety. I find if there’s no way out, that’s when I struggle. Like with the hike, I was more anxious because I knew that if I dropped out the whole group had to stop (minimum group numbers). It’s also important not to push yourself too hard (where is the line? You’ll have to judge that for yourself!) because sometimes you feel like you go backwards that way, but usually if you are taking small steps, a step out of your comfort zone is a step in the right direction. 

So go on, push your boundaries and do something that’s a bit difficult, you might surprise yourself! 

Love,

Ellie xx

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Pushing my comfort zone

Today my boyfriend had a day off, which is very unusual for a Saturday. We went for a walk this morning and then did a bit of shopping, went for dinner and then met up with his work friends. Let me first say, his friends are lovely and they always make me welcome. 

But I feel very anxious about being around lots of people, especially when I don’t know them very well. So we were going to a pub in central london on a Saturday evening, I knew it would be busy. 

Yesterday I said I might not go to the drinks in the evening. Today I decided I’d see how I felt and then decide. When we arrived at the drinks I said I would leave after about an hour. 

I actually stayed for over two hours. And I had a nice time. Yes I felt a bit anxious at first and I am bloody knackered from all the walking I’ve done today, but I enjoyed the evening and I’m glad I went. 

I guess the point of this post is to say I am trying to push my comfort zones. And it’s a good thing to do. I always put in my safety mechanisms, for example I took my car home before we went into london so that I could leave the drinks earlier than my boyfriend if I wanted to (I did and he’ll probably be out most of the night) and that helps with anxiety. I find if there’s no way out, that’s when I struggle. Like with the hike, I was more anxious because I knew that if I dropped out the whole group had to stop (minimum group numbers). It’s also important not to push yourself too hard (where is the line? You’ll have to judge that for yourself!) because sometimes you feel like you go backwards that way, but usually if you are taking small steps, a step out of your comfort zone is a step in the right direction. 

So go on, push your boundaries and do something that’s a bit difficult, you might surprise yourself! 

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

My hospital appointment 

After ages of trying to convince the GP there is something wrong, a couple of months waiting for a triage appointment and then months of waiting to see the specialist, I finally had my hospital appointment on Tuesday. 

I was anxious as hell. Didn’t sleep well the night before. I was a bundle of nerves. I was wondering what they would say. Would they give me the diagnosis I was expecting and dreading? Would they say oh there’s this test we haven’t done yet, followed by more waiting? Would they say “pull yourself together woman, there’s nothing wrong!”? (Ok I never thought they would say it like that but you know what I mean!) or would it be another red herring like the triage appointment, where I thought it was with the specialist and it turned out to be triage?

I went to the appointment and the doctor was actually very nice. He asked me a whole load of questions, I answered them. Some of them I had answered before at the triage appointment, some were new. Anyway, he listened and wrote down notes. Then he did a physical examination including some prodding which actually really hurt! And then he started talking about treatments, he said they have a CBT group for people with fibromyalgia. I stopped him there and said “so is that what you think it is?” Because he hadn’t said so at that point. 

He said yes, that’s what the diagnosis is. We can call it chronic fatigue syndrome or we can call it fibromyalgia but the treatments are the same for both and he is not too bothered about the diagnosis, more about the individual and the treatment. That was kind of nice to hear and it stopped me from overthinking the diagnosis at the time… I have fibromyalgia. 

So the next thing is to see the CBT therapist that specialises in chronic pain/fatigue conditions and see the physio for an exercise plan. He did not think a half marathon was a good idea, damn – I’m meant to be doing one in spring! 

In one way it was a relief. I have suspected for some time that I might have fibromyalgia but now I have a diagnosis. I am sad that he couldn’t say “oo actually you’re deficient in vitamin X, take this and all your symptoms will go away”, but that was never going to happen. Now I know that there’s a name for what I am experiencing and it is a real condition, this is not just me, and it’s not just in my head. That validates me a little. 

And there’s the other side.. being diagnosed with a condition that I know there is currently no cure for. A chronic health condition which may or may not get worse over time. I need to be careful not to use it as an excuse not to do things, and also be aware of my limits… a fine balance. 

Anyway I am off to sleep now. I’m sure I’ll write on this topic again pretty soon, but wanted to write an update and get it all out of my head. 

Love,

Ellie xxx

A spark of motivation 

Working in the field of mental health, I spend 5 days a week trying to support clients with their mental health and suggesting goals – try mindfulness or write down three positive things everyday or make time for self care. I often find myself coming out with gems such as “you can’t pour from an empty cup” and “you are always focused on others, but what do YOU want?” 

Hypocrite. 

Yep, I am a massive hypocrite. 

But no more. I am going to try and take my own advice. I am going to try and be more positive, make time for self care, be selfish sometimes. 

Now I am not going to sit here and pretend that a bit of mindfulness here or goal setting there is going to cure anyone because that would be bullshit. You know that, I know that. But it’s about doing things that help, even a little bit. It’s about building confidence, helping someone develop their identity – things they do or don’t like, enabling people to get that sense of achievement when they meet a goal. It’s about small steps and sitting with that person and really listening (because so often people don’t listen) So now it’s time to support myself.  I’m going to work on being the best I can be, and to help myself be a little bit happier again. 

One of my lovely blogger friends is doing 100 happy days at the moment, I tried it once before and didn’t manage it all, but I’ve been inspired by my blogging friend so I’m going to try again but in my journal this time, a little more manageable. I’m on Day 3 so far, I am managing and I won’t worry if I don’t manage all 100 days in a row!

 I have started my mindfulness again lately (I did 25 days in a row but went away for the weekend and lost my streak – but I started it up again today). I have a bullet journal, I find it very therapeutic but for some reason I stopped*, I will get that going again. 

A little bit of motivation has surfaced today! 

I am going to do some blog posts on the things that help me such as mindfulness and bullet journaling. What helps you? Is there anything you would like me to write about? 

Love,

Ellie xx

*When I start feeling unwell I stop all of the things that actually helped before. It’s counterproductive but the motivation goes and before you know it, all the good things have been left behind and you’re wallowing even more! 

What if this is it

I’m afraid this is a bit of a negative one. Feeling sorry for myself this evening. The fear that things will always be this way is strong today. My physical symptoms are getting on top of me and being positive is too much today. 

Love Ellie xx
Like a vampire, avoiding light 

A slow and tired sloth 

There are a group of little creatures

Having a disco in my head. 

Their music thumping away. 

Someone has pumped my body full of lead

Limbs heavy 

Mind heavy 

A thought occurs to me, a whisper in my mind 

“This is the rest of my life”

Pain and tiredness

Feeling blue 

“What if this is it?”

A positive thought 

Amongst all the terrible things that are going on lately, and the depression I am experiencing right now, there are still good people, glimmers of hope… 

While I was driving home today I saw two ladies, one elderly and one much younger (maybe her daughter?) walking in the pouring rain. The older lady was pushing a walker to keep her balance. The younger lady held an umbrella over the older lady to keep her dry as they walked. Not over both of them, just over the older lady. The younger lady was drenched but didn’t seem to mind, focused on keeping the older lady dry. 

‘That’s love’ I thought, as I saw this moment, I smiled as I drove on. Little things like this give me hope. There are still some good people, there are still things to smile about. 

Just thought I’d share some positivity!

Love 

Ellie xx

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

Chasing dreams

I know what I want to do with my life. I know how to get there, but it’s going to be hard. And I don’t know if I can do it.

I want to be a clinical psychologist, which means once I graduate I need to get 1 – 2 years of relevant work experience, and then apply to do a doctorate in clinical psychology which takes 3 years. There are only about 500 places a year in the UK, one university alone (which has 24 places) had 650+ applications last year… And then if I make it onto the course, I’ve got to get through the course, which normally has 5 or 6 placements, plus a research project, and then obviously you have to pass everything.

But what if I can’t do it? What if I’m not good enough? Or what if I’m not strong enough? What if my own issues (depression, anxiety etc) get in the way? How many attempts do you give it before you give up and do something else?

I’ve been thinking recently maybe I should take an easier option. I’ve always thought about being a primary school teacher. It’s not really what I want to do, but I know I could do it – I guess I’ve seen it as a backup plan. I like working with kids and in a primary school there’s nothing too hard to teach, I can be creative, and primary school involves a lot of art/creative stuff. I’d quite like to be a primary school teacher I think, long holidays, working with kids, getting to make a difference to people’s lives. But it’s not the thing that I really want, it’s not where my passion really lies. But it would be easier. Because we always need more teachers, there’s always places going – especially as I’ll have a language, and psychology which involves a lot of knowledge about development of learning etc.

What would you do?

Strive for something you want but might never achieve, and might struggle with due to personal issues? Or go for something that would be ok, but easier?

I’m normally full of fight but lately I’m wondering if it’s really worth it. Only the best can make it into clinical psychology, and I’ve spent my whole life trying to be the best, but I’m not. Maybe it’s just setting me up for failure. Damn perfectionism. Of course I want the most competitive thing.

It’s strange. I’d like to go down both paths and see how they are, but of course I can’t. I’ll have to decide.

Just as a side note, I am in no way saying that a teacher’s job is easy or shouldn’t be valued. I think teachers are amazing, I’ve seen the work that goes into that job (my mum was a teacher) and I know that it wouldn’t be easy. But the entry route to teaching is easier, that’s all I mean by this post. I think maybe one day I’d like to be a teacher, but the thing I’m actually really really interested in is psychology, and especially mental health.

And another thing I’ve noticed… Although the careers of teachers and psychologists have a lot of differences, I have realised that there is a big thing in common – both aim to make a difference, to change people’s lives. And also, both would have the opportunity to work with children. I think I need a job where I’m helping people, I’m definitely the sort of person that will be in the job for the people rather than the money!