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.

Negative thought patterns

I wonder whether I will ever be happy with myself.

My housemate said “you’re so negative.”

She’s right I am. It’s not like I choose to be though. I can’t help all the “what ifs” that pop into my head, the paranoia that no one really cares. I don’t do it on purpose, but I put up barriers, making everything harder. I don’t know why, I don’t know how.

If I ever treated anyone else the way I treat myself, I would not be considered a nice person. Sometimes I will berate myself over something, but in a very similar situation involving someone else, I will offer support, tell them it’s not their fault. From a psychology point of view (because I’m not studying for nothing!) I see myself a lot in what we learned about attribution styles. I tend to have an internal attribution style for bad things relating to me – if I fail an exam, it’s because I’m useless. Yet, for others I have an external attribution style for negative events – if a friend fails an exam I will say maybe the exam was just too hard, or maybe you had a bad day (not your fault – everyone has bad days sometimes.*) Then when it comes to positive things, I’m the opposite – if someone else succeeds at something it’s because they are clever, they worked hard, they deserved it! (Internal attribution) but if it’s something positive relating to me, I must have been lucky – the exam was easy, or it was because of the situation that I did well (external attribution.)

It’s strange when I see psychological concepts in real life. I wrote an essay about attribution for my social psychology module. And it turns out I’m not unusual in my attribution style – it’s common for people with depression to have a negative attribution style. I suppose it’s to be expected. We teach ourselves that everything we do is wrong and that nothing we could ever do will ever be good enough, and will never be as good as what others can do.

Yet EVEN THOUGH I know the psychology behind it, and EVEN THOUGH I know it’s a distorted way of thinking, I can’t seem to stop myself doing it.

I have a need to succeed, but when I do I never give myself the credit for it. For example, I recently got back my last lab report, it’s only worth 5% of the module, but somehow I got an A+. My first response: they were being a nice marker. Or it was an easy lab report because it was about format not content. EVERYONE probably got an A+**. And it doesn’t matter anyway, because it’s only 5%…

I don’t even know what I’m trying to prove, or who I’m trying to prove it to. Maybe I’m trying to show everyone that I’m not nothing. Maybe I want to prove that the ex was wrong about me. Maybe I want perfection because I think it will make me happy? 

I always thought a perfectionist would want perfection in everything. In themselves, other people, everything they do. I don’t, but A said it is perfectionism. I always see the best in other people, but the worst in myself. I don’t care about mess or if other people make mistakes. It’s only when I make mistakes that I can’t handle it. And it’s mostly about academic stuff, it’s like if I don’t succeed then I’m proving everyone who ever doubted me right. 

This reminded me of a conversation I had with A a long time ago. We were talking about uni and how I felt that I really need to get a 1st. I said I want to show that the ex was wrong about me, to prove that I’m not useless, that I can succeed – that I am good enough. And she said, “Wouldn’t it be succeeding if you got a 2:1?” And that stopped me in my tracks.

Of course that still counts as success. And if anyone else got a 2:1 I would be congratulating them. I know at 2:1 is a really good mark, I know it’s something to be proud of. And yet there would be this part in my brain saying “See, I told you that you couldn’t do it.” I think it has a lot to do with my parents always pushing me to do well in school*** and the school I went to, that was driven purely by exams. A school where getting an A is a bad thing (you need an A*) and where I learned that everyone gets As/A*s all the time. It wasn’t until I had left the school that I realised that is not what the rest of the world is like. Not everyone succeeds all the time, in fact most people don’t succeed all the time. We are human, not robots, we make mistakes, we have strengths and weaknesses, and that should be ok. It’s normal…

Sometimes it’s like an internal battle in my mind. I feel like shouting at myself: WHY can’t you just be happy for yourself that you wrote a good lab report?! WHY do you have to put yourself down all the time?! And the other side is just telling me I don’t deserve it, I’m useless, a failure, I’m never going to be good enough.

Bet you can’t guess which side is winning…

*Except me – I mean I do, I just don’t allow that as an excuse for myself.

**This is not true, but it’s the way my mind works.

***This makes them sound horrible. I know they never meant to do any damage, they just wanted what’s best for me, but when you are pushed to do better all the time it takes its toll. And I’ve seen it start to emerge in my brother too, I’ve talked to my parents about it and they’re trying to put less pressure on him now. I don’t want him to turn out like me.

What if…

Today I’m having lots of “what if” thoughts. I think that’s called catastrophising, but whatever it is, it’s making me panic.

What if I can’t answer the question on my exam on Monday?

What if I fail the exam?

What if I fail my degree?

What if I can’t go into clinical psychology because my grades aren’t good enough?

What if I’m not strong enough to go into clinical psychology anyway?

What if I mess it all up?

What if I do all of this, and then I realise I don’t want to do it anymore?

What if I’m just useless and a failure?

What if…

What if…

The real answer is “then it happens”.

There’s nothing I can do about it now, and if it happens then I will have to deal with it.

It’s amazing how one little thought spirals out of control, until you’re questioning your entire being and the meaning of life!

Maybe I should spend less time panicking about “what if”s and more time revising… but that would be too sensible wouldn’t it? 😛

Back to the books I go…

Not much to say (but I’m still here)

I haven’t been around much over the last week. Partly because I was feeling quiet (like I already said) and partly because there has been nothing else much to say. Everything I have to say, I have already said before. I feel like I’m being very repetitive – I feel rubbish. I want to feel better. I am procrastinating my life away and doing no work. I feel useless. Nothing seems to make me feel any better. I am at a point where all I want to do is give up but I still know I can’t.

– I’ve said all that before.

Tomorrow is CBT, so I will probably have something to say after that.

I have still been reading, and have finally caught up (I think).

No one seems to know how to help me anymore. I feel stuck.

Hope everyone is ok and had a good weekend,

Lots of love

Ellie xxx

Triggered

I can’t do it.

I don’t want to go to CBT tomorrow. I’m too scared to deal with these memories. Nothing can change them anyway.

I am disgusting. I am so ashamed.

I tried to write out the memory of new year’s eve and it’s so triggering. I can’t do it.

I’m never going to get better if I don’t deal with these memories but it’s so hard. I won’t be able to say it. It makes me feel like dirt. Like I’m nothing. I’m so stupid, useless, pathetic and a slut. 

I just want it all to stop. Tears streaming down my face and all I can think is I just want to die. I just want it all to stop. I can’t deal with it.

Why am I so stupid and pathetic? Why can’t I just grow up?

Do some work you lazy shit instead of just sitting there feeling sorry for yourself. You’re never going to even pass your degree at this rate, let alone get a first. What’s the point in any of this? He’s still controlling you even now, because you’re letting him. Just do something useful for once. You’re going to fail and you’re going to let everyone down. You’re just proving that you’re nothing. Give up. No one cares.

Just a moan about life really

There’s too much to do and never enough time.

So much coursework, and I haven’t done my CBT homework yet, and yet all I seem to want to do is sleep.

I am tired all the time. No amount of sleep seems to help.

I wish I could have a weekend off – no commitments, just sleep and lazing around. But I can’t.

There’s too much coursework, homework, work. And I’m helping on the university open day today, giving a tour of the university at 3. Oh dear. I’m still in my pajamas.

Time to get going and put a happy face on.

And tonight I’m volunteering. Can’t let them down now. Damn. Why do I agree to these things?

All I want is to hide in my bed by myself. No chance of that.

And tomorrow I need to do work. When am I going to get 4 pieces of coursework and revision for at least 2 exams done?

I don’t want to ask for any more extensions.

I just want to be able to do this. Feeling useless, and that probably isn’t helping matters.

Why do I have to be so disorganised and unproductive with my time? It’s like everything takes at least three times as long as it should. No wonder there aren’t enough hours in the day.

Urgh.

Just a moaning rant really. Sorry WP.

Little steps

Today has not been good.

Spent an hour and a half trying to convince myself to get out of bed.

Then when I managed to get up, I couldn’t concentrate.

I feel useless, stupid and pathetic.

My mum rang and I cried a lot and I said I can’t do it and I should’ve taken a year out. I feel bad because I know she’s worried about me and there’s actually nothing she can do because she’s in London and I’m not. And even if I was in London she still couldn’t magic anything better could she?

There’s actually nothing anyone can say that is going to fix this. And there’s nothing anyone can do to make the work go away either.

So I’m just going to have to do it. (Today).

I lay in bed after the phone call and dozed off again. Then my dad rang and said I should take little steps. Try and do one little bit, then have a break, then another little bit etc.

So I’ve tried that. I still feel useless and like it’s never going to get done. But I’ve done a bit today.

My dad said I’m going to have to accept that it’s not going to be my best work because I’m not well at the moment. But that’s hard to accept because I always aim so high, and anything less than the best isn’t good enough.

So I’ve done the introduction and the method, I’ve done most of the results and some of the discussion, and then there’s the abstract. And then boom – it’s done. (EDIT: This was not all done today – far from it!)

If only it were that simple.

For the people who tell me to just get on with it, I wish they could spend an hour feeling like I do, and then they would understand that it’s not that I’m not trying, it’s that I CAN’T CONCENTRATE and I feel BLOODY AWFUL.

So I should probably go back to it now. I’ve had a break, reading some blogs and now writing this.

Now I’m going to look at the results section. And we’ll see.

Maybe after that I’ll go for a walk. It really helped last time. 

CBT – week 1

So I’ve finally got round to writing about the CBT which started on Monday.

I’ve decided I’m going to create a page on my blog which will have all my posts about CBT on, in case anyone is interested!

So, let’s start from the beginning.

For those who don’t know, CBT stands for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and Mind says:

  • CBT is a form of talking therapy that combines cognitive therapy and behaviour therapy.
  • It focuses on your thoughts, images, beliefs and attitudes (your cognitive processes) – and how this impacts on the way you behave and deal with emotional problems.

The point of CBT is to become aware of your thoughts, feelings and behaviours and how they interlink, and then change negative thought patterns, which will in turn change feelings and behaviours.

CBT is a therapy which is used for many conditions, including depression, anxiety, anger, drug/alcohol problems, eating problems, phobias, post traumatic stress disorder and many more.

So, now we know what it is, I’ll write about my first proper session.

~ ~ ~

I arrived at the hospital and signed in. My appointment was at 9am so they were running on time!

We sat down and the therapist (A) asked how I had been etc.

For “homework” I had been asked to create a timeline of my life. I did this, and we went through it chronologically, looking at different life events and how they have affected me and my life, and how I have come to be where I am now in life (needing CBT).

What I thought was nice was that A said she isn’t going to look at my CBT book. So I can write in it, and tell her about it, but I don’t have to worry that anyone else is going to read it – because they aren’t.

So I guided her through my life, quite quickly, but stopping at particular events.

She wrote down some things to come back to, for example my relationship with the ex.

She said that in future sessions will can individually speak about each issue and try to work through it. This seems very logical, but is not an approach that the counsellors I saw last year took. They seemed to try to deal with everything at once, which just meant that nothing got dealt with!

This week for homework I had to identify and write down negative/difficult thoughts which I have.

Here’s what I’ve found this week:

  • I needed an extension for coursework so I must be a failure/useless
  • I should just give up and go home
  • Didn’t go to the gym, so I am useless/lazy/fat/ugly
  • I didn’t go out when everyone else did, so I must be boring
  • No one cares about me
  • I don’t have (m)any real friends here
  • I must be really boring/horrible if people would rather go home/be by themselves than be with me.

 

A ham sandwich with moudly bread

Woke up this morning. Thought “damn I’m still here”, drifted in and out of sleep for a couple of hours. Woke up again, thought “damn, I’m late!” Dragged myself out of bed, into the shower and then, threw on some clothes and made my way to uni. Made it just in time for my first seminar of 2013.

After a bad start, the day got better. I handed in my coursework, spoke to my head of year who has given me an extension for the next piece of coursework, organised some stuff for the society I am on the exec for, had lunch with a friend and a nice catch up..

Got my grammar test back from German, and I got an A (which equates to a 1st), was feeling pretty good after that – was expecting a far lower grade!

Got home, did some cleaning*, made my tea** and sat watching TV with housemates. It was all fine, and I felt not too bad considering everything that’s been going on recently…

Then I went up to my room, saw that the results were up for the 2 exams I did last term, and that was my day ruined.

On one of them I got an A (again, a 1st) which is great, but that almost doesn’t matter because on the other one I got 47%, which is just scrapping a pass.

Even though I got two As today, the low grade on that 2nd exam has really brought my mood down.

Completely lost all motivation, and although I’m trying not to show it, I’m completely and utterly gutted. I feel like I’ve failed. I’ve thrown away stupid marks. It was a multiple choice exam and I got less than 50%, how is that even possible? I’m just useless.

Even now, feeling really rubbishy about this, I know that this is an irrational response. Yes I should be disappointed, but why am I letting 1 bad mark overshadow the 2 good marks? That’s just how my brain works.

And the worst thing is, that when I did that exam (which I got 47% in) I felt really really rubbish***, and they told me I could do it after Christmas, and I said no. I did it anyway, even though I felt awful, and now it turns out I did badly. Therefore it was stupid of me to do it before Christmas. I probably could’ve done better if I had done it this week instead. Maybe.

Either way, it doesn’t matter now because it’s too late. I did the test, and so now I can’t do anything about it. The uni are not going to do anything about it now because I took the choice to do it last term instead of this term, and I’ve probably thrown away my chances of getting a 1st this year now.****

All my life I have done well at school, in exams, and at uni last year I did well too. And I have always placed massive importance on my academic achievement. It’s something I measure my success on, and nothing lower than an A is good enough for my stupid brain.

It doesn’t matter that I felt awful the day I did the exam, because now 47% is on my transcript, and that will bring down the rest of my marks.

Why do I have to have such stupidly high and rigid expectations of myself? Even though I know it’s irrational and stupid, I still can’t shake these beliefs. That I’m a failure, that I’m not good enough, that I don’t deserve anything. That if I don’t get a first, there’s no point in getting a degree.

I’m pretty sure that these thoughts are the kind of things that CBT aim to help with, so here’s hoping I can “correct” my thinking.

So all in all, today was very up and down. And because of this stupid 47%, the day will be remembered as a rubbish day. It started badly, had a nice middle and ended badly. It’s a bit like having some lovely ham in the middle of mouldy bread – it’s still a yucky sandwich, even if the ham is nice!

*I know – me, cleaning!

**I’m becoming Northern – dinner to the rest of us!

***massive understatement, again!

****Yes I know, I have ridiculously high expectations of myself, it’s what I get for going to the school I went to. And yes I know, it’s irrational.

Anxiety, depression and perfectionism – intertwined

Yesterday I went to see Matilda (the musical) up in London. It was great and I went with one of my best friends (Monkey) and her family, which was lovely.

But parts of it brought on anxiety. If you are not familiar with the story, it features a horrible, abusive headmistress of the school (Miss Trunchbull) and the parents of the main character (Matilda) are also horrible, selfish people.

I don’t think it was so much the storyline which brought on the anxiety, although it did bring to the surface some memories of things with the ex…

But there were several instances where there was loud sounds, flashing lights and I felt disorientated, and anxious at these times. I have noticed that sometimes when there is loud noises/lots of people/flashing lights that it brings on anxiety, although I’m not sure why.

Maybe it is because I feel disorientated and there is too much going on.. Who knows!

Another example of this was today at work. I was in one of the aisles, and it suddenly got really busy and I felt really trapped and as if everything had got louder than it really was. I have had this feeling several times at work, and always under the same circumstances (busy aisle – too many people and too much noise.)

Luckily I have been able to control it by focusing on my breathing, and in some cases I have been able to leave the aisle in question.

It is really bizarre… I did think that my main issue was depression, but it seems that anxiety is more of an issue than I thought.

I think it is very common for the two (depression and anxiety) to exist alongside each other, and they probably fuel each other as well.

Having been in this anxious state (which has definitely not been helped by my rising stress levels over different things!*) I have now bitten all my nails off, which is sad because I thought I had cracked my nail-biting habbit. Every so often, I get stressed and I end up biting them.. Grr!

So all in all, things are not great at the moment.

I had a day or so where I felt quite optimistic, and have done quite a lot of my work (but not all of it, and it’s probably rubbish anyway..) but that seems to have disappeared now, and I am back in the gloomy worry of whether I can finish this year or not. This morning I had a bit of a melt down… Spent about an hour hiding in my room in the dark, and crying, because I feel like I’m never going to get my work done (and even if I do, it won’t be good enough.)

Having read what I have written here, my perfectionism is glaringly obvious, and it seems incredibily irrational, but at the time it feels like the truth, and feels like there is no way out of this gloom. Even now, rationally, I know that this is irrational, but that doesn’t stop my brain telling me all these things… like how I am useless, a failure, and I can’t do what other people on my course can do, therefore I am not clever enough, and must be useless.

Damn perfectionism….

*Coursework for uni, worrying about going back to uni, stressing about the amount of weight I have put on, the fact my clothes are mostly too small now… etc.