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!

Feeling thoughtful

I came to realise that I am generally a very positive person, except when it’s about me.

I am always there to try and cheer people up, and looking at the positive side of things when it’s about someone else. But when it comes to me, it’s so different… I’m much more negative.

I am always putting myself down – I’m not good enough, no clever enough, not anything enough. But I never judge others by these standards. It’s like I have one set of expectations for others, and another, impossible set for myself. And I know I can never live up to my own expectations, it’s physically impossible. It’s the perfectionism, and I know it is there, I recognise that I set my standards too high, and yet I can’t seem to let them slide even a bit.  Why not? Why can’t I be happy with being average? Why can’t I be happy being me?

I would love to be able to look at myself in the mirror (both actually and figuratively) one day and be happy with what I see. I don’t know if that will ever happen, but I guess that’s my aim. I don’t want to be perfect, even if it were possible, I just want to be happy and comfortable with who I am. Sadly, that seems to be a distant dream and to tell the truth I can’t imagine ever being satisfied with who I am.

There is always something that I have done wrong. (In my mind.)

When am I going to stop punishing myself for the past? And even things I haven’t done?

They say you have to learn to love yourself before you can be truly happy.

What if I was someone else, and I saw myself. I wonder how I would judge that person, I wonder if I would still think that she (I) wasn’t good enough. What would you think if you saw yourself from someone else’s perspective?

My brain is full of these thoughts and questions tonight,

Good night!

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!)

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.

Get off that train

**trigger warning – self harm thoughts**

The thought train/negative spiral, whatever you want to call it… It tends to run away with itself, until suddenly you’ve made a mountain out of a molehill, and paranoid thoughts become the absolute truth (in your mind)

Last night the situation arose (again), but this time it was a bit different. Instead of staying on that train, going down the track of paranoia, self doubt and anger, I stopped the train.

I argue for the sake of arguing, because if S gets angry or says something horrible, it proves that I’m right, that he doesn’t really love me, that I’m worth nothing… And I’m paranoid, if he wants to see his friends, its not because he actually wants to see them, its because he doesn’t want to see me, he is just trying to avoid seeing me. This stupid paranoid thought spirals. And when he said he is going to the pub with Sheep, (and didn’t invite me) my immediate thought was that I’m not invited, they don’t want to see me… he wants her not me. Even though they haven’t really made proper plans, just said that they will go on Wednesday, and we always go to the pub, the 3 of us, why wouldn’t I be invited? My brain is incredibly irrational.

But yesterday I didn’t get to my usual point, I didn’t get to the point of “well why are you even with me then, you should just leave me” (because I’m not worth anyone’s love.)

So even though it still went further than it should. The paranoid thoughts are still there, so is the self doubt and thoughts that I’m not good enough. But these are just thoughts, not reality. And I noticed that, and stopped it earlier than I have in the past. Little steps.
So now I just have to realise it before the arguments begin, but for now I’m taking little steps to make this better.

It’s strange. When I get these thoughts, I feel so angry and so low. My mood just drops in an instant, and I wish I was dead, I want to cut myself and the urges are so strong. And I feel so so angry, like I just want to scream and shout, and I hate him at that moment. All of these emotions are so strong, I guess that’s why I get carried away into the negative spiral. But then just as quick as it comes, the anger is gone. And I’m sorry, so sorry for being so stupid. And I don’t hate him, I love him.

I have so little control over my emotions, its scary. They are all just so strong, so quick to surface. Why am I like this?

Ellie’s little think (and ramble)

Today I went to the doctors. It seems like I haven’t been in ages! Last term I was going every week (not an exageration) but I think this was only the 2nd or maybe 3rd time I’ve been this term (and the term is nearly over now!) That’s progress in itself, I haven’t felt the need to go because things have been improving.

Over the last month or so I have felt a bit worse again and had a few wobbles. But I’m still a lot better than I was, so maybe recovery isn’t a straight line all at one gradient, it seems like it has its ups and downs, and times when things seem to stay the same for a while. But looking back, things are SO much better than they were, and I’ve come a long way this year.

I also got a copy of the letter from the psychiatrist (that I saw in February) to give to my GP in London when I get home. So obviously I had to read it… (Ever tried having a letter that is about you and not reading it? No thank you!) I thought it might upset me a bit, it is the reality of how things are (were?) in 4 pages. Written without compassion or explanation, just the bare bones of it really… And it was difficult to read. I had a little cry.

And then I had a little think, because these kind of things do make you think. One thing about this letter was that it had an actual diagnosis. It says depression and anxiety with post traumatic symptoms. And in that one sentence, it brings validity to what I am feeling. Someone else’s words shouldn’t be worth more than my own experience and emotions, but somehow it is. Sometimes I still think that maybe it isn’t that bad, or I’ve been overreacting to normal emotions. Sometimes I still doubt that it’s all real. But this man knows his stuff, and he is saying it’s real.

But since February things started to improve, little by little. Sometimes there were big changes, sometimes tiny, almost insignificant changes. And still now, I have my wobbles, and I have my little victories, but most important of all I have hope again. Hope that things can change and get better, hope that I can do this!

Well this is all sounding a bit positive and progressive isn’t it?! Time to add some worrying (because otherwise this wouldn’t be an Ellie post!)

I got an email back from the school I am going to in Germany today. I emailed them yesterday, in German. My “Betreuungslehrerin” (mentor teacher) emailed me back today, in English. So now I’m stuck; a decision that probably wouldn’t phase most people, but somehow any decision gets me into a flap! I’m just not good with decisions. So do I reply in English? Do I reply in German? Do I do half and half? (No Ellie, that is ridiculous!)

And what about living arrangements. She mentioned that in the past sometimes the assistant has found a flat in the town, sometimes lived in the nearest city (about an hour away) or she said I could live with one of the other teachers… Too much choice, too many decisions! I’ve decided not to reply today, but I’ll think about it and try and get out of this anxious worrying. Because really, whatever decisions I make – English or German, town or city, alone or with people, it’s not that important. And living arrangements can be changed if it doesn’t work out when I get there…

So time for Elllie to take a deep breath, and CALM DOWN.

Talking of breathing, I must do my meditation for today! And that’s another thing I want to blog about.

I’ve also been trying to plan my dissertation. As I’m doing psychology, we have to do an experiment so need ethics approval. I’ve been working on my ethics proposal today, but have been stopped in my tracks as there is a large flaw in my experimental plans… I have a PC and not a Mac. I have never seen this as an issue before, but apparently the software that I was planning to use for testing in my dissertation which measure reaction time does not exist on PCs!! (I mean seriously, come on!!) So there has been a lot of rushing around, panicking, and emailing my supervisor… hopefully we will sort this out soon! The problem is that next week is the last week of term, and I’m leaving Lancaster then so won’t be able to organise these things once I’m gone!

(Once again, breathing may be useful here!)

So little time, so much to do! In just over a week I will be leaving Lancaster until after my year abroad! Scary stuff!

Edit: I have just seen that I have passed the 200 mark on followers! Wow!! 🙂

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.