January 29th

Hello again! 2 posts in 1 day…
So, I’ve made it to today, hurrah!! Well, not really a reason for celebration as it’s been a really crappy day. When I woke up for some reason in the back of my mind I knew something was going to go wrong somewhere. I just didn’t know when or where. It was a feeling I couldn’t shift either, felt really fed up and easily stressed out.
Of course being a Wednesday meant that it was another trip to hospital for session 2 of CBT. This in itself was making me anxious because it’s such an effort to get myself there on the bus without having a meltdown; as well as interacting with people and trying to concentrate on what the therapists talk to us about.

Anyway, I’ll start at the beginning of the day… it was Day 16 Smokefree… until around 9:30am. For some reason I got so worked up and just couldn’t calm
myself down at all; was waiting at the bus stop and the bus was running late, this made me worry I was going to be late to hospital (which of course they
understand, but to me it stresses me!), and then someone came and stood behind me smoking. I couldn’t take it anymore and went and bought a pack of 10 cigarettes and a lighter and smoked one. Did it make me feel better/calmer? No, not really; just felt like a complete and utter failure! But at the same time I just wanted to sit down, cry and smoke the whole pack!! Ridiculous I know. Then the bus came, so obviously it was just the 1 cigarette at the time. Changed buses at Addenbrookes and had to wait 20 minutes for the bus as I’d missed the earlier one thanks to the 7 being late! The site is now totally smokefree, so it stopped me smoking there, but the more I thought about it (and of course having them in my pocket didn’t help!) the more I wanted to smoke more. Almost to punish myself in a way I think, as the first had made me feel sick and my lungs hurt! I felt that I’d totally screwed it all up and just wanted to smoke myself into… well, I don’t really know! The stress of the time ticking by and my hospital appointment time getting closer and no bus in sight wasn’t helping!! Eventually the bus came and we were on route. The whole way there I was constantly holding the cigarettes in my pocket, knowing that as soon as I got off I’d be having a smoke before I went into the hospital. I was messaging a friend at the time who was trying to help me through the crazy rollercoaster of emotions that I was feeling! Guilt, regret, upset, disappointment in myself…etc etc!! It was nice to have someone there to lean on a bit, especially as she’s gone through very similar experiences
to myself, including quitting smoking! To talk to her felt like a relief really, as she was reassuring me that it wasn’t a total failure, just a bump in the road, which was inevitable! So many people keep telling me that perhaps I’m trying to take on too much all at once, and maybe I am, I don’t know. I’m just going a day at a time and hoping really. So far that hasn’t gone so well, but it’s the only way I can do it for now.
I’ve also eaten far too many bad things today!! But, again I’m going to give myself a break. The image below was my thoughts on it yesterday… So am trying to focus on what I said and try and not be hard on myself!
image

At the end of the day, I’m only human, I’m going to make mistakes, life doesn’t come with instructions!! I’ve made some big steps recently, so I still have a reason to be proud, even though I do find it hard. Every time something goes wrong (eg the SH or smoking) I instantly class myself as a failure and beat myself up about it more than is necessary. I know I can overcome both things, as I did over 10 weeks without cutting, and 16 days without smoking. 2 very big achievements for me in retrospect! Just because I’ve stumbled a little on both doesn’t eradicate what I’ve achieved already, it’s just something to try and put behind me, learn and move on from. Tomorrow is a new day and another chance to do things better or at least try to. Putting too much pressure on myself isn’t going to get me anywhere though, so I’m going to attempt to go easy on myself when things go wrong. I can’t expect every day to be perfect and go without a hitch, that’s unrealistic!
From today I’m taking the negatives in my stride and trying to get some sort of positive out of them… Regarding the smoking.. Okay so I smoked. I’ve been a smoker on and off for around 13 or more years, it’s never going to be an easy thing to quit; but at least I only bought a pack of 10 and not 20. It hasn’t destroyed the 16 day’s I managed to not smoke for (aside from the obvious health effects and nicotine intake…), But it doesn’t mean tomorrow can’t be day 1 again, and this time aim for 16 days and beyond right?!
As far as the naughty eating is concerned, once again I need to cut myself some slack and go get weighed tomorrow evening, see what it says, if I gain (which I think is most probable!) then I’ll just deal with it, draw a line under this week and start fresh on Friday. I know how to lose weight in a sensible way, so I don’t need to stress about something I can fix in the long run.

Apologies if I’ve repeated myself anywhere in this post, am exhausted and finding it hard to focus now! CBT always takes it out of me!! That’s another positive I can take from today, that I made it to the session and got through it too. Admittedly I was held back afterwards by one of the therapists because of my risk assessment form. But it was useful in a way to get that 1-1 chat as well. That option is always there for any of us in the group if we need it too, which is reassuring. Today’s session we reviewed our homework from last week and I was honest when I was asked to feedback to the group and said that the task made me angry and emotional but I got it done and hoped that it’d help in time; and then we moved on to this weeks topic of the ‘Maintenance Cycle’. This is basically identifying our triggers and the emotions/feelings/behaviours they lead to. Looking at experiences in the past, how they made us feel then and now and the impact it had/has on us. It’s our homework task for this week to complete one (or more); to be honest I’m worried about delving into my feelings again and making myself feel worse by thinking so much, but I know in the long run I’ve got to do it. I was told today though that all of this needs to be at my own pace and if I don’t feel ready to tackle a certain task then that’s okay. So we shall see…

I’m going to leave it there I think, have a banging headache and just want to chill out before going to bed. I will try and post daily again, but I’m not going to promise as every day is different.

So, I shall say until next time for now…

x Sara Phoenix x

 

January 25th – 28th (Catch-Up)

Hey everyone,
 
Yes, I realise that it has been a fair while since I last posted; I’ll be honest, things haven’t been going very well lately. After the bus trauma on Friday (24th), I kind
of shut myself away in my own little world and didn’t feel like talking to anyone about anything, so blogging was the last thing I wanted to do. In hindsight of
course, it was probably the worst thing I could of done, as it meant that I was keeping it all inside and it was just bottling up to the point where it was going to get
too much to handle. I just felt at the time it was what was right for me and what I needed to do to get through it. Anyway, I’m back here tonight to do a catch up
post and hopefully get back into the swing of things a little….
 
25th:
Day 12 Smokefree.
Not a lot really happened on this day; my husband was working, so I spent the morning dozing and watching television mostly. Still wasn’t feeling well with the
cold/flu thing, as well as the bad day the day before still playing on my mind. My mood was really low, I was irritable and just generally not a nice person. I hate
when I’m like that, as I even annoy myself with those moods, so I dread to think how others perceive me (or put up with me really… my poor husband cops a lot
of it!); I was adament that after the humiliation on the bus on the Friday that I wasn’t getting back on another bus ever again; this of course had other
consequences of not making it to appointments such as the Psychiatrist and CBT. At the time though I couldn’t care less; I just wanted to shut myself away and
never see the world again.
 
26th:
Day 13 Smokefree.
Again, not much really happened on this day either; a long lay in, and a generally chilled out day really; didn’t go anywhere or do anything much, some drawing
and watching tv.
 
27th:
Day 14 Smokefree.
Day time was uneventful really, home alone and exhausted as always; Had an appointment with my GP to review things, and overall it went okay. He was
concerned that I’d self harmed again, but told me not to see it as a fail, but more just a bump in the road that I can move on from. When he asked about how the
first session of CBT went, I told him it exhausted me and apparently that was the right answer! If it doesn’t exhaust me then I’m not doing it right.. hmm! I guess I
can see what he means as there is a lot to it, and there’s a lot of digging up feelings, emotions and experiences as well, which is hard. He told me to focus on
what I’ve achieved so far, rather than how far I have left to go; especially regarding the self harm and suicidal thoughts. He said that I’ve come through them
before and there was no reason I couldn’t continue to do so, and that each day I have to tell myself that I’m making steps in the right direction, and even if I feel
like shit I have to have belief in myself that I will beat it in the end, regardless of how long it takes. I suppose like a daily mantra of sorts, maybe I’ll write it down
and stick it up somewhere.
The evening was much better as I had Rock Choir, and it was a one of a kind experience too! Our usual leader was working away, so she arranged for a friend
of hers to cover our sessions for this week; the awesome Graham Lappin (Actor/director.. Google him!). We had a night of musical theatre, learning a song
called The Rhythm of Life. It’s one of my all time favourite songs from the musical Sweet Charity; it reminded me of high school as we did a production of it, as
well as sung some of the songs in the main school choir. Had such a good night, laughing and singing, was sad when it got to 9pm and it was over to be honest.
I stopped to speak to Graham after the session though, and he signed my lyrics sheet, so I have an ace reminder of the night to keep.
I also e-mailed the Cambridge Volunteer service lady as well, as I missed her call whilst at CBT last week and never got around to getting back to her. I’m not
very good at talking on the phone at the moment, so e-mailing was a lot easier for me. I explained that too and she understood.
 
28th:
Day 15th Smokefree. That’s pretty much it really…. a very lazy, lethargic kind of day; made the effort to go for a walk in the afternoon even though it was cold and
I really couldn’t be bothered! But it was getting to the point where the 4 walls felt like they were closing in on me so I had to get out.

Right, I will leave it there for this post, today’s can be separate! Thanks and well done if you’ve read all of this one, sorry for the epic length…!!!

x Sara Phoenix x

January 24th

Hey,

Wasn’t going to post tonight, but have decided to after all. Today has been a very mixed up kind of day. Started off feeling very unwell with the cold/flu thing that’s been attacking me all week, so napped for a bit this morning. Then had to get myself organised to go to town for an interview; that in itself was hard because of course it meant facing the anxiety of the bus again. It didn’t help that whilst stood at the bus stop had a smoker on either side of me blowing their smoke in my direction. I should of took that as a sign things weren’t going to go so well. The journey itself was relatively painless, concentrated on my music and counting down the stops to when I could get off! I then got off a stop too early because I panicked I was going to miss the stop! I seriously hate travelling on buses. Even more so now after the events of this afternoon. After the interview I got the bus into town; got what I needed then went via Starbucks for a coffee to drink whilst waiting for my bus home, just as I did the other day, and just as many other people do! The bus arrived and the drivers changed over, so we were kept was waiting for even longer. Then finally when we got on, the driver checked my ticket, then as I started to walk to a seat he suddenly said I couldn’t have my drink on the bus; when I said it hadn’t been a problem before and that many others I’ve seen doing the same, he then raised his voice and told me I couldn’t have it on the bus. At this point I was really irritated and angry and said “Fine I’ll get off the f**king bus then!!”. I felt humiliated beyond belief as everyone stared at me as I got back off the bus, fighting my way through the Que of people waiting to get on. Tears were burning in my eyes but I tried so hard to not let them fall. Went back and sat at the bus stop and waited for the next bus due in about 20 minutes. By the time that arrived I’d finished my coffee and disposed of the cup so got on with no issues. Only then I broke down and couldn’t stop the tears falling silently from my eyes. Every time the bus stopped to let people on/off I felt so self conscious of people looking at me; I hate people seeing me cry; but there was nothing I could do to stop it. The more I tried the harder the tears forced themselves out of my eyes. It was awful. My husband called me and hearing his voice made me cry harder because I just wanted him with me. It felt like an eternity to get home. Was so glad when I could eventually get off and get home to wash my face. My eyes were red and puffy and I looked worse than ever.
The evening then consisted Chinese food, chocolate, sweets and general bad food choices. For which now I feel guilty about and really quite sick. My own fault for the binge though. Let my emotions get the better of me again. Was very tempted to purge after too, which is something I haven’t thought about in a long long time. This in itself scared me. Still feel bad about cutting yesterday (and sure felt the sting in the bath this evening too!!); so to have the urge to purge was horrible. I just felt so full and fat that it was a very overwhelming thought. Somehow managed to distract myself and not do it though, but the thought is still very much there. I will try not to let it beat me though.

Oh, and as far as the interview went, I think I got the job…not really sure!! Watch this space.

Today also marks day 11 smokefree, so nearly 2 weeks. Not sure if that has been playing havoc with my emotions as well! Especially with the bus stop incident this morning; and it felt like everywhere I went in town there was someone with a cigarette! I stayed strong though and didn’t give in to temptation. So I guess that’s something to be proud of.

I don’t even know if this has made any sense…just felt I needed to write to process the emotions, otherwise it was probably going to be playing on my mind and keep me awake. Am writing a letter of complaint to the bus company tomorrow; doubt it’ll actually do anything, but I feel it needs to be done.

Anyway, thanks for reading.. Calling it a night now, until tomorrow… 

x Sara Phoenix x

January 23rd

Hey everyone,

Today’s post is quite hard for me to write to be honest; mostly because I have to confess to something I’ve done that I’d come so far not doing.

**********TRIGGER WARNING**********

After 10 weeks and 3 days, I fell apart and cut today. I don’t know why or what triggered it; I went for a bath and then afterwards I’d done it before I’d even realised. It was only when the blood started to run did I really think about what I was doing. By which point I’d gone pretty epic on myself. Below is a photo of when I did it and how it is now:

image

The words are true; I do hate myself. Even more now than I did before. Please don’t ask me why because I don’t have an answer for you. I know people love me; I know how well I’ve done with weightloss; I know how well I’ve done with quitting smoking too; but deep down I’m still my own worst enemy. I think I always will be. I’m ashamed that I broke down my own defences and cut again, especially to the extent that I have. Even if it had just been 1 cut though I would of still felt like a failure. I should of been stronger, distracted myself or something. But I didn’t. At the same time I’m proud that I’ve had the courage to not keep it secret too. For some reason that feels like an important thing to me. Whether it is or not I don’t know; I’ll also speak to my GP and psychiatric team about it too.
I’ve written on my calendar a big sad smiley on today too. Every time I look at it I know what I’ve done. To be honest though I only have to move slightly and the pain reminds me anyway.
Well, confession time is over, so on to other things I guess..

Today is day 10 Smokefree and I managed to maintain at Slimming World too; which really surprised me as have had a lot more syns than I should of! I guess being out and about has helped though as I’ve not just been sat around. Plus I may have eaten a lot, but at the same time it’s been a lot of fruit, water and green tea that I’ve consumed as well. I guess it all makes a difference. Part of me still wants to lose more and achieve my original target weight though…I think in a way I got addicted to losing weight; seeing the numbers on the scales go down and the size of my clothes getting smaller. Will see how it goes I guess. Another thing to talk to my GP about too, as it could be part of my mental illness too.

Don’t think I’ve really got much else to say tonight; am feeling really low and still poorly with this flu thing…think it’s time for bed! Thanks for reading and thanks to my newest followers too!

Until tomorrow…

x Sara Phoenix x

January 22nd

Evening everyone…

Not really much to say (sorry), but just thought I’d check in and say I’m still here! Started my CBT course today; found it very exhausting to be honest. Not because it was hard or complicated really, just the anxiety of the bus journeys, meeting new people and being in a social environment, and feeling unwell didn’t help added on top!
This is my lovely course book….it’s huge!
image

I can’t say too much about the people in the group for confidentiality reasons, but in total there was 6 of us today, was meant to be 8, but 2 couldn’t make it for different reasons. We vary in age from 21 up to 61, and all have varying degrees of depression and experiences of it. In a way it was good to know I’m not the only one feeling the way I do every day, but also at the same time it was hard listening to some of their stories of suicide attempts etc. I think by the end of the course I may have made some new friends too. It’s being run by 2 psychological therapists, who are both very nice, friendly and understanding. They seem very approachable too, which is good and if at any point any of us need 1-1 help it is possible; we just have to say. Before each session we have to complete the risk questionnaire, which over the 12 week’s will be inputted into a graph that we can have, along with feedback on our progress at the end of the 12 week’s, and again there was the offer of further help if required too. I’m staying open minded with it, but did find today very overwhelming and wasn’t quite sure what to make of it all really. I guess over time it’ll become clear the further we go into it, and at least the worst part is over – the initial meeting each other etc – so hopefully it’ll be something I can use on my journey to recovery.

One thing that was mentioned today, was that we need to be realistic as well; by no means is CBT a cure for depression. It’s not a magical fix that will suddenly make it go away at the end of the 12 week’s either. It’s simply a new approach to help manage your depression, changing the way you think/feel/behave etc. For some it’s non effective, others it can have fantastic results. For me, who knows. I sure don’t, can’t really judge it after 1 session, plus was more of an introduction to the course, each other and the ladies running it today anyway. I suppose the more in depth stuff starts next week. I do feel sorry for the 2 that couldn’t get there today; I know 1 of them is definitely starting with us next week, which will be harder for them as we’ll already know each other.

Anyway, that’s that really for now. I do have homework from it as well (although there’s no detention if it’s not completed!) but it’s in our best interests to do it to get the most out of the course. This week is to write our “Problem Statement”; kind of like a personal statement on a uni application, but focusing on the way we feel by taking a step back to look at our symptoms. It’s our main thoughts and feelings, physical symptoms and the behaviours associated with them. It can cover the impact all of the above has on daily life too. I feel mine is going to be quite long… But I’m too tired to do it tonight. There’s also a part where we write about our “Directions/Goals”, like our best hopes for what we’ll get from the course and what we’d like to be different by the end of it. This too for me may well be quite long, but I need to be realistic with it too. I don’t for a second think that it’ll totally fix me; to be honest that’ll never happen. I know I’m going to have to live with and manage my depression for the rest of my life. It’s one of those things that just never goes away; like a permanent scar. Once you’ve been a victim of it, you always will be. It’s how you deal with it that makes the difference. Whether you choose to let it beat you and control you, or whether you fight back and take control of it instead. The latter being easier said than done of course. The last part of the homework is putting yourself on a scale of 0-10, of where you feel you are at with your depression right now. Something to look back on at the end I guess to see how far you go.

Ha, there was me saying I didn’t have much to say…turns out I did! Also, today is Day 9 smokefree and I managed another 4 bus journeys as a non smoker, managing my anxiety in different ways. Learning to cope without my old friend Mr Ciggie, is a new experience every day, but one I’m not going back on. I’ve come too far now to go back to being a smoker (I hope!!).

Will call it a night now as I’m shattered and my eyes are crossing as I type! Thanks for reading… Hope it made sense!

Until tomorrow,

x Sara Phoenix x

January 20th & 21st

Hey peeps,

Another double post again! I was exhausted last night and didn’t really have much to write about. Chilled out for most of the day, then had Rock Choir in the evening. My throat was rather sore so I struggled to sing, but had a laugh with my friends. Little did I know, the sore throat was just the beginning of worse things to come! I’ll explain shortly…
So on to today…
January 21st
Woke up feeling quite honestly like I’d been hit by an 18-Wheeler! Aching all over, sore throat, cough, headache, hot then cold, then hot again! Earache, sinus pain and blocked nose… ugh hello coldy/fluey rubbish!! Had breakfast and slept some more, then dosed myself up on lemsip and headed out into the cold to get the bus to town. Today was my 2nd meeting with my employment advisor; she was happy with my progress so far, as we discussed my goals I’d set at our 1st meeting, and I could tell her today that I’ve achieved 2 of those 5 goals already! We also reviewed my progress on my ‘Ladders’; I shall explain –
There’s 2 ladders, 1 is ‘Identity & Self-Esteem’ – it’s about how you feel about yourself and how you define who you are. It is about getting to the point of where you have a sense of your own identity (likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, accepting and liking who you are, and if relevant to you, finding your cultural/religious/spiritual identity); When I had my first assessment before being assigned to my EA, I was level 3/4 on the ladder (out of 10). It falls into the category of ‘Accepting Help’, but I was stuck between – “I don’t feel I have any value and don’t know who I am; I need help” and “I see myself as a mental health service user and I’m engaging with help”. There’s a further description of these levels, but I won’t go into those, just the details of where I’m at now. That is level 5: “I can see that there is a me beyond my mental health issue” – described as: Your self esteem is fluctuating but you believe in your ability to move forward; you have a sense of self which is beyond the mental health issue; this may not be the same sense of self that you had before the mental health issue and you may not have a clear sense of your identity now. These all fall under the category ‘Believing’. So small but definite progress on that one.
The other ladder is the ‘Work Ladder’- pretty self explanatory; previously was at level 3 ‘I can’t realistically see a working future but I need to do something’. Again in the ‘Accepting Help’ category. However, I’m now level 5 ‘I believe that it is possible for me to have a job’. Described as: You see a working future as a realistic possibility; you may lose belief at times but overall you have hope and motivation to get into work; you are probably not clear how to proceed or what kind of work you want; you may be looking into courses; – so once again progress on that ladder too. My EA is also referring me to Supported Volunteering as well, as I’m lacking in self confidence and she feels I’d benefit from some extra support.
Overall it was another good meeting and useful in many ways.

Today is also day 8 smokefree, so over a week now!! Getting the bus for the first time without my security blanket of a smoke before and after was hard; but I focused on my music, stayed calm and tried not to think about where I was or any of the things that trigger my ocd and anxiety. I got through it and treated myself to a Starbucks before the journey home. Totally exhausted me though, takes a lot of energy to get through things like that.

Something else is causing me quite a bit of anxiety tonight; my CBT starts tomorrow for 12 weeks… I’m so nervous about it but not 100% sure why… I guess its a combination of a few things: nervous about getting there on the bus (x 2), of meeting new people and talking in a group setting and just not sure what to expect I suppose. But I will go in with an open mind and see how it goes. I’ll stick the full course regardless, hopefully it’ll help in the long run. It may pull me back a little whilst I deal with certain things, much like with my sessions with the psychiatrist, but it has to get worse before it can get better…right? Well, that’s what they tell me anyway…

Right I think I’ve caught up with what’s happening…so tired and feeling unwell, so am calling it a night now. Thanks for reading! Until tomorrow (hopefully!!)

x Sara Phoenix x

January 18th & 19th

Hey everyone,

Apologies for not posting yesterday; really wasn’t feeling good at all, very grumpy, withdrawn and the last thing I wanted to do was write my blog. I’ll play catch up with this post…
So, January 18th…
Not much really happened to be honest; was day 5 smoke free; doing the shopping at Tesco put me in a bad mood, spent all the money we had just on basic food stuff and then realised I then didn’t have any bus money for my appointments this week; I binged on chocolate, sweets and cake, ended up feeling worse, fat, hideous and a failure; … so yeah, shit day really. Then I was over tired and kept waking up through the night so felt exhausted this morning.
January 19th
Day 6 smokefree, almost a week. Aside from feeling tired and my knee giving me grief, today has been calmer than yesterday. Caught up with the laundry and washing up etc, so that’s 1 less thing to stress/obsess over tomorrow. Went for a walk with my husband, about 3.5 miles. Then just generally chilled out. Had a soak in the bath to try ease my knee, which it did while I was in the water, then not so much after. Plus soaking gives me too much time to think, and that’s bad for me. I over think everything, beat myself up mentally for no reason and let the voices take over my head again. I wasn’t going to write too much about the voices on here when I first started this blog, but I’ve figured that its not something I should be ashamed of. I didn’t put them there on purpose, its all part of my illness. If anyone wants to be nasty to me about it then that’s their choice; I’m used to being called names, so a few more isn’t going to make a difference.

This coming week is a busy one… Rock Choir tomorrow, appointment with my employment advisor on Tuesday, CBT starts Wednesday, slimming world Thursday and an interview on Friday. Will be glad when its Saturday!! Getting the bus on 3 occasions in 1 week is going to take a lot out of me. I hate it. I hate how my anxiety gets the better of me. I hate how my OCD and other fears/phobias freak me out so much. Wish I could just stay at home out of harms way.

Today does also mark 10 weeks SH clean too. Quite an achievement in itself. Have been tempted a few times the last few days, but have so far managed to resist.

Not sure there’s really anything else to say…so will call it a night. Anything else I think of after posting this I’ll write down and add in tomorrow. Thanks for reading.
Until tomorrow….

x Sara Phoenix x