Oh, we can be stars. โœจโค๏ธ

It’s been a while since my last post. I just had a bitย ofย a mind block and couldn’t figure out if I had anything worth reading to write about. That’s when I realised that my feeling like I had nothing to write in fact gave me a lot to write about. Does that make sense? No? Let me explain.

So since getting home from camp life has been crazy. An awful lot of both amazing things and bad things have happened all at once. I’ve coped, generally quite well with it all, I think, especially with the weather changing. โ„๏ธย But lately, I’ve come to question whether I’ve actually been dealing with it all or just pushing it all to the back of my mind for another day? My mind it seems, is a really complex thing to understand and while I’m slowly learning to get to grips with how it works, I still have a long way to go.

It’s all a little bit scary because if I am ignoring all my emotions then I know it’ll come back to bite me. But what if I’ve dealtย with them how I need to and I’m just being paranoid and pessimistic and not having faith in all the progress I’ve made.

I keep getting these crazy and totally irrational ideas to say things to people and do things and go places- all bonkers ideas that I definitely should avoid without thinking them through. I get so close to doing them all (running away to camp for the rest of my life etc,) and then Ellen, the functional and rational part of my brain ๐Ÿ˜‰ย talks me out of my stupid missions to change the world. Thank God!

But all these irrational thoughts have got me questioning loads of stuff. Myself, my motives, how I’m feeling, my plans. But it’s not in a bad way either. Maybe it’s time to question things- situations, relationships, everything. Maybe I’m having a pre-adulthood life crisis? Is that a thing? Maybe it’s just third year driving me crazy even though it’s barely started? That’s a worrying thought LOL.

It’s all kind of exciting though. I’m beginning to realise that I like things that challenge me. It sounds so clichรฉ but I’m forever surprising myself.

America being the biggest surprise of all. Like I’ve said before, I never really thought that I’d make it to America and even when I was there I was constantly doubting myself that I would make it to the end, although deep down I don’t think I was ever going to quit. I suppose it’s all just a confidence thing. Every five minutes on the plane home I burst into tears. I literally just could not believe that I, tiny, super awkward, Kimbo had done this huge thing all on my own despite being uncontrollably riddled with crippling Anxiety less than a year previous.

I’m not even to sure how I did it. I think having this blog has given me the space to write about my mental health enabling me to understand better what’s going on in my head and why I’m feeling how I am. It’s also given me a lot of confidence, finding that I’m good at something that I enjoy and feel passionately about, whilst knowing that other people enjoy and can sometimes relate to what I write about.

College has also definitely made all the difference too. Finding a bunch of people who love me for exactly me has been fun. I suppose it has taught me to stand on my own feet and to prioritise my own interests, morals, insecurities, fears and ย goals first. Whenย I feel great I’m much better company!

Learning about my brain has helped a lot too. Now that I have a better understanding of what’s going on in my body and why it’s reacting in specific ways helps to give me control over my often irrational anxiousness and many emotions. It’s given me the option to discover coping mechanisms that I can relate too; meaning they help.

But I also go through patches when I feel deflated and begin to question my perceived control over my mind. Like, for instance now. I feel like maybe I feel too ‘calm’ at the moment, considering the past two months and all their events.

But I feel fine and content, which is kind of scary. It’s just scary not being entirely confident in how my brain is going to react next. Does that make more sense?

If not don’t worry, I’m not even really, entirely sure what I’m getting at here either.

But directing back onto the topic of liking a challenge and constantly surprising myself, I think that’s what I’m going to focus on doing. I made a little set of goals for my final college year and so far I’ve slowly been achieving them. It’s early days yet, though. My No.1 goal of course being gaining ever more knowledge and understanding of my own mental health. Even when they’re only small, achieving little goals keeps life exciting and slowly aids to building my confidence as I see small but rapidly growing results.

I’ve discovered that the more sure of myself I feel, the more I can conquer and the less my anxiety drags me down.

Being 100% yourself to the best of your ability, ย I think is key. ย ๐ŸŒธ

I’m going to start including The Samaritans number at the end of all my posts. For anyone who doesn’t know, they’re a wonderful organisation who provides, along with other amazing services a free help-line for everyone about anything. If you ever find yourself in a situation when you need to talk to someone kind who will listen, give them a call. It’s a number that I would recommend everyone to have on their phones.

Look at it this way, ringing can’t make anything worse but it could make things a little better. Xโค๏ธ

  • 116 123- The Samaritans.

 

For now, know that it’s almost the weekend and on Saturday and Sunday the sun is supposed to come out! ๐Ÿ’›โ˜€๏ธ๐Ÿ˜ฎย I hope you all stay happy and healthy and safe and above all else,

Smile Always,

Kimbo. X ๐ŸŒผ๐ŸŒปโญ๏ธ๐Ÿ’–

 

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REPEAL THE EIGHTH. ๐Ÿ’›

“Scream so that one day a hundred years from now another sister will not have to dry her tears wondering where in history she lost her voice.” – Jasmin Kaur.

Okay, so yesterday was the 6th annual Pro-Choice march in Dublin. Unfortunately I couldnโ€™t make it into the march despite my best efforts but given the occasion, I thought Iโ€™d write a blog post on some of the reasons I feel so strongly about repealing the Eighth amendment in our constitution.

(For anyone that isn’t aware,ย The Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland recognises the equal right to life of the mother and the unborn child. This amendment created a constitutional recognition of an unborn child’s life and so makes it impossible for any government to introduce legislation allowing for terminations in the womb except in exceptional circumstances.) Also, I feel like it is relevant to mention that this legislation was approved and brought into effect in 1983…

*Trigger warning, this post includes references to sexual violence, abortion and rape.

So, this post has been particularly difficult to write and I have not written it alone. I wrote it alongside a very close friend who, some time ago was sexually assaulted. This friend wants to keep her anonymity but she has both given me permission to write this post and she has read it over and approved it.

For the sake of the post letโ€™s say her name is Mia. Purely because I don’t think I know any Mias and I don’t want to use anyone’s name that I know, given that it’s such a sensitive subject.

The exact details of what happened arenโ€™t relevant but โ€˜Miaโ€™ was raped by a stranger one night, in a place that was well-known to her, a place where she should have been safe. The person who raped โ€˜Miaโ€™ did not use contraception.

Initially โ€˜Miaโ€™ felt guilty, afraid and ashamed. ย She blamed herself and told me that the attack left her feeling dirty and embarrassed. It took over a year before she reported what happened to the Garda and even now, very few people know about the assault. Unfortunately because of the time it took her to report the incident, alongside the fact that it was a stranger there wasnโ€™t a whole lot that the Garda could do.

It has taken โ€˜Miaโ€™ coming up to two years to come to terms with what happened to her. Two years to even be able to say the words โ€œI was rapedโ€ out loud. Two years to feel like she has reclaimed control over her sexuality. Two years of her life to stop questioning herself as to whether or not she is safe and whether or not she should cross the road every time a man she doesnโ€™t know walks past her on the street. It has taken โ€˜Miaโ€™ almost two years to begin to leave what happened behind her and to really start enjoying and living her life again.

โ€œThere have not been the words or phrases that can accurately capture and display the trauma of what were the worst moments of my life. There have never been words invented for feelings that should not exist. Situations that should never be allowed to happen canโ€™t be explained in ways that people will understand because they surpass human comprehension.โ€ (โ€˜Miaโ€™)

The trauma of the assault was almost enough to cause โ€˜Miaโ€™ to end her own life.

It was just out of total luck that she didnโ€™t fall pregnant. By that I donโ€™t mean that she was lucky because not one single bit of what happened was lucky, but the whole situation would have been made 100Xs harder had pregnancy been an issue!

Now, can you try to imagine what โ€˜Miaโ€™ would have gone through if she had fallen pregnant. On top of the unimaginable horror she was forced to go through, imagine if she had been faced with the idea of having a baby, unplanned, by her rapist.

โ€˜Miaโ€™ hasnโ€™t even told her family about what happened, after almost two years. She says that she still, after all this time struggles to say the word โ€˜rapeโ€™ because that makes it too real. She still faces regular nightmares about what happened. Two years on and her life is still being impacted by the assault.

If โ€˜Miaโ€™ had fallen pregnant Iโ€™m honestly not sure if Iโ€™d still have my amazing friend by my side.

I like the idea of living in a country that could give both girls and women who fall pregnant, both those who have experienced sexual assault and who havenโ€™t, a choice. I like the idea of living in a country where if โ€˜Miaโ€™ had needed it, she could have had access both to clear and accessible information and to a safe abortion within her own country, that she could have afforded, where I could have gone with her; if she needed me.

I like the idea of living in a country that prioritises itโ€™s womenโ€™s health and safety over completely out of date religious views that I donโ€™t understand and am quite frankly appalled by.

I like the idea of living in a country that would provide me with safe health care if I ever got into a situation where I decided an abortion was my only option (a decision I hope I never have to make and would definitely not take lightly).

I like the idea of living in a country that I feel prioritises my health, physical and mental and my safety.

Right now, I do not feel like I live in such a country.

Until the Eighth amendment has been not replaced, but totally repealed I donโ€™t think Iโ€™ll feel safe and content in the idea that I am an equal citizen who is cared about, and whoโ€™s welfare is a priority to her countriesโ€™ government.

In a Pro-Choice post one of my friends shared on Facebook, he wrote about how he wasnโ€™t pro-abortion. How no one is pro-abortion. He said that doctors donโ€™t want to give abortions and women donโ€™t want to have to have them. But how it is so important that legal, safe abortions become an option for girls and women who need access to them.

I couldnโ€™t agree with this more.

The reality is that on average 12 Irish women are forced to ย travel abroad every day to access abortion services. That is 12 women too many every day. Abortion in Ireland is illegal and a woman can face up to 14 years in prison for having a termination. 14 years for making a very hard and personal decision over her own body. These statistics are disgusting.

Our country has an awful habit of concealing itโ€™s โ€˜problemsโ€™ and pretending they donโ€™t exist. Well, they do exist and Irelandโ€™s government needs to stop ignoring the fundamental needs, and my opinion rights of its citizens and repeal the Eighth amendment.

Being Pro-Choice doesnโ€™t mean that you are pro- abortion. It means that you agree that women should be trusted to make their own decisions over their own bodies and that we deserve a choice. That women deserve more than to be owned and controlled by the Catholic church as they have been traditionally throughout Irish history.

If you are on the fence about this issue or simply just donโ€™t care enough to have an opinion, it is my hope that after reading this post and hearing about โ€˜Miaโ€™ and just some of what she went through that you will at least educate yourself enough on the issue to form an opinion. The women of Ireland need everyone on board with this and we need to all fight together. We need to force our government to listen and allow us to live in a more just and humane society.

Simply not having an opinion on this issue is not an option. Women are worth more than that! We all deserve more than that!

โ€˜Miaโ€™ deserved to have a choice if she had needed one, I deserve a choice, every woman in Ireland deserves a choice.

#RepealTheEighth

Smile always,

Kimbo. X โœจ๐ŸŒป๐ŸŒธ๐Ÿ’–

image1

WONDERLUST โœˆ๏ธ๐ŸŒ๐Ÿ‘’

So I’m well and truly home now and life is beginning to get back to normal. It’s been weird. I guess it’s a side they don’t really tell you about travelling. I went from being happy and tired all the time, care free, having the most wonderful adventure to back to normal life.

The first few days were great; I saw and caught up with everyone. I was kept busy. ย But now things have settled down and since uni hasn’t started back there’s not much routine. I’m kinda bored and my mind is in over drive simultaneously missing camp- all the people, the weather, the fun, and dreaming of my next adventure. I miss the excitement of not knowing what’s next. I miss not having real adult worries.

I’m so happy to have been able to see everyone and get all my hugs โค but now I’m ready to run away again and see the world.

I’ve kind of come back from America with a new perspective on everything. ย I’ve had a taste of what being so happy all the time feels like, and now that’s what I’m determined to work for. In every aspect of my life. Not that I wasn’t happy before hand, I absolutely was! I’ve just woken up to the idea that there’s a whole world out there that’sย so different to my little Dunboyne. I feel so ready to just kill it this college year and really start working towards all my goals and dreams. Also, I am totally aware of how cheesy all this sounds!

My anxiety has definitely gotten better. I’ve found myself really starting to recognise when I begin to get anxious, so that I can question myself as to why I’m anxious, take a few moments and just breath. This usually stops the anxious thoughts from spiralling ย and gives me the chance to deal with the situation and move on; rather than to just ignore all my problems into a state of absolute panic.

I don’t think I’m quite as naive as I was before I left.

I am happy, just in need of a challenge.

With college starting back soon, four of my best friends are going on a year-long Erasmus adventure, one has moved to Scotland for three years to ย get a nursing degree, (go you, Caoimhe! ๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿ˜‰) And lastly, one of my college girls is leaving to join the army. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

I hate goodbyes so, as you can imagine, six goodbyes to some of my favourite people has been a little heartbreaking. ๐Ÿ’”ย  *I’m gonna miss you guys so much but I’m endlessly proud of you all! โค

However, life goes on and as I said, I’m really looking forward to getting back to college and making Third year count!

At the start of second year I wrote a blog post with a few goals for the year. I can’t remember what they were, just things like: keep taking baby steps, get involved with a new club (Whoohoo Drama!) โค , things like that. But I remember reading over the blog post on the plane home from America and feeling so happy when I realised that I’d completed them all. I felt so proud of myself for getting to the place I’m in today. It took a lot of work, but I feel like right now life is good! And when things get bad which is inevatible, hopefully they won’t ever be quite as bad as they were before!

People have always been so lovely about my blog. At camp a few people told me that they ย liked my blog, that they could relate to how I was feeling, that they too have struggled with mental health issues. It came as such a compliment that these people trusted me enough to tell me that they could relate to how I was feeling, which isn’t always easy. I know.

It genuinely makes me so happy that what I write is a small comfort for some people. As selfish as it is, it alsoย reassures me that I’m not on my own either. Sometimes it’s a bit scary writing so publicly about theย things that go on in my head; so it’ s such a relief and a lovely feeling when people tell me that they liked reading what I had to say. So thank you, I really, really appreciate it. ๐Ÿ’›

As for this college year, my plan is to work hard, keep taking baby steps, start taking bigger steps, stay healthy(ish) and I suppose just to be happy and have fun. And when the thesis starts stressing me out, or the weather has me a bit down, I’ll start planning my summer 2018 adventure.

(So sorry for all the cheese!)

Have a wonderful week everyone.

Smile Always,

Kimbo. X ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒป๐Ÿ‘ฃ๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒผ

Homeward bound! ๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿผ๐ŸŒ…๐Ÿ‘’๐Ÿ’…๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ

Well here I am, about 3/4 of the way through my flight back to Ireland. I haven’t managed to get a wink of sleep because I’m so excited to get home, so with just over an hour left of the flight I’ve decided to turn on some Westlife and write a post. โœจ

Dad currently thinks I’m in Long Island partying it up and isn’t expecting me home for another 5 days.
I changed my flight home and decided to surprise him pretty last-minute. It wasn’t because I wasn’t having fun, it was just because travelling and living out of a big, heavy suitcase on a budget is tiring. It’s amazing, but tiring. It’s been a long summer, as fantastic as it’s been and I am just in desperate need of a cuddle from my pup.ย โค๏ธ
Travel plans were starting to get messy so I just decided that good old Dunboyne was calling me too loudly to ignore anymore. ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ’•โœˆ๏ธ
As I said, I haven’t slept on the plane yet and I’m exhausted. Not only from today’s journey but from the last week of travelling and from the whole summer in general. Every time I go to close my eyes I start imagining the moment in about 3 hours when dad opens the front door to me. Then I imagine Sally bouncing over and I start tearing up. (It’s happening as I write this.) The anticipation is killing me.
This summer has made me realise how lucky I am to have a home and friends and a family that I miss so unbearably and am so excited to get home to. And of course, the greatest dog in the world! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿถโค๏ธ
Getting slightly off track now, but one of my first days at camp I found a dirty old squeaky dog ball in the high ropes shed amongst all the equipment. I joked about how squeezing it would keep me going while I had to be without Sals. It stayed in the shed all summer, with my team occasionally taking it out and playing catch with it while I got to squeak it a little. I’m not sure why but I ended up getting so much comfort out of such a small, insignificant, slightly disgusting item. The ball is currently in my hand luggage ready and waiting for Sally. ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜Ž
I’m writing about the ball because it meant nothing to the others on my high ropes team but regardless they never judged me for having the occasional squeak (lol) and always joined in when I took it out to play with.
I talked about home constantly in America. I’m sure it got annoying for the others but they were always enthusiastic and supportive and ย listened to my stories about home and looked at the 1000’s of Sally pictures I showed them daily.
It’s because of these amazingly wonderful people thatย I got through what was a seriously challenging but seriously fun 3 months.
I’m pretty sure I’ve said this in another blog post, but it’s funny how I’ve known these people for such a short period of time yet, they genuinely feel like family.
I feel like without knowing one another very well we’ve been through so much together and I have no doubt that when I get home I’m going to struggle adjusting to not being with these people everyday. I feel genuinely privileged to have made so many new, super fantastic friends from all over the world. All of whom I will never forget and really hope I get to see again very soon. ๐ŸŒผ๐Ÿ’›
Camp was tough! Going over I’d heard so many positive stories of people’s experiences of different camps. I don’t think I actually heard one bad report. I now fully understand why, although I don’t think it’s fair to talk about the camp environment without reiterating how hard it is.
I struggled with the lack of alone time. It was very rare to get an hour to myself.
I also struggled a lot with feeling home sick. The hours were extremely long and the work was hard but every minute kind of seems to have been worth it.
Summer has been filled with a lot of really high highs and also a lot of really low lows but I don’t think I would change a single thing about it. โœจย (Apart from maybe packing more socks…)
I’ve worked so hard the last couple of years to get my mental health under control. I decided early on at camp that I was going to finish this summer no matter how hard it got. That if I arrived home in August with a smile on my face that I could officially do anything. Well, here I am!
I kind of feel like this is the last chapter of what has been an incredibly tough few years.
***Here comes the plot twist.***
So, as most people know, I’ve been on medication to control my anxiety and depression for a very long time. The dose has been lowered and I came off the meds for a while before I started college but I don’t think I was ready at the time and I ended up being put back onto them.
I’ve been wanting to come off the medication for a while now but the doctor advised me that with camp coming up I should stay on them as none of us knew how my body was going to handle the new environment.
I kind of went to the States with the idea that camp was going to be the official test. If I could handle it, well then I had definitely put the worst of my mental health problems behind me; if I couldn’t then I still had a lot of work to do on myself.
About two weeks into camp going to the health centre everyday to take my medication just became too much of an effort. The weather was generally amazing so I figured in that respect it was definitely an ideal time to come off them. I came to the conclusion that ย if I was going to get through camp it was going to be on my own. Due to my own strength. So, maybe slightly irrationally I decided to stop taking the medication entirely. This was either going to be a really good or a really bad idea.
I have now been off the meds for 7 weeks and during that entire space of time have experienced just 2, well more kinda 1 and a half panic attacks and my mood has been generally fine!
I know that I will always have to look after myself and my mental health and I know that this isn’t a total end to all panic attacks. What I do know though is, that I am strong enough to take on anything now. I know how to deal with my attacks and I know that once I’m careful and ensue to give myself regular breathing breaks, I can now take on the world entirely on my own!
I’m not entirely sure yet how camp is going to have changed me but I know that it has. I know that I am a better, stronger, happier and more confident and in control person because of this summer and that is more than I could ever have wished for.
I never fully believed that I would get myself to America, never mind get to the end in such great form. This is a pretty cool feeling, not going to lie.
So, when I said thank you to my high ropes team, and to all the amazing friends that I made and to the leadership team and to everyone from home that encouraged me to go to America, and when I said that I would never forget any of you or what you guys have done for me, I 100% meant it!
This hasย been the hardest, greatest and most unforgettable 3 months of my life and I don’t have a single regret. ๐Ÿ’ซ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐ŸŒˆโค๏ธ
As for college and winter and everything else that is about to come at me, I am ready! I’m already looking forward to next summer and whatever adventures it has to bring.
For one final time, thank you again to everyone. For all the little things. For being cool about my squeaky ball. You guys all helped me to get to the place I’m in right now. You’re all superstars. ๐Ÿ’ซ๐Ÿ˜‰
Hope everyone, home and abroad had an incredible summer and I’m looking forward to seeing and catching up with everyone. I love you all.
Keep adventuring and having fun and last but not least,
Smile Always,
Kimbo. X โœจ๐Ÿ„๐Ÿ’–๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒน๐Ÿ’›

We got this, kids! ๐ŸŒˆโ˜€๏ธ๐ŸŒผ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿฝโค๏ธ

12 days left of camp and my first panic attack of the summer is well and truly under my belt. That being said though, one this whole time is still a huge achievement, I feel. Tiredness was a big factor in what happened along with feeling super homesick and anxious for a couple of days previous.I mostly managed to calm myself down before anyone really saw me too upset and by then I was just a bit teary and totally worn out. I was allowed some extra time to ring home and take a breather which helped a lot. โ˜Ž๏ธโœˆ๏ธโค๏ธ  

For a couple of days after the incident I was so angry at myself. I was disappointed that I had come so far without having an attack and couldn’t get my head around how I had let myself get into such a state. I really felt like I had let myself down. Everyone else can hold their shit together, why can’t I?! ๐Ÿ’ฉ๐Ÿ™„ 

This is a problem. This is one of the main reasons I write this blog. Stigma! ๐Ÿ˜ก๐Ÿ˜ก๐Ÿ˜ก 

The actual truth is that no one really has their shit together 100% of the time. Everyone has a breakdown every once in a while; especially in an environment like camp. In reality, a lot of people have anxiety and panic disorders. A lot of people experience panic attacks. People just don’t realise this because of the stigma surrounding mental health. These type of things are not talked about sufficiently so when they do occur, people like me are ashamed and angry with ourselves. FOR REACTIONS OUR BODIES HAVE BECAUSE OF CHEMICAL IMBALANCES. 

Panic attacks are nothing to be ashamed of. Sometimes they happen. We can learn how to reduce them and cope with them, but sometimes they happen. And you know what, that is totally okay! 

Now, taking a step back and reevaluating the whole situation, I’m mad at myself for originally being mad at myself! Before summer I was having like 3 panic attacks a week. I have been in America almost 2 months now and I have had 1. Even without taking into account how out of my comfort zone I am, that is pretty awesome! ๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฝ

One of the first weeks of camp, I was on my own with my girls for evening activity. The prospect of spending an hour and a half keeping 13 eleven year olds safe on my own terrified me. I totally freaked out and my anxiety levels were sky high. One of my friends saw that I was panicking and stepped in to help me out really early on. If she hadn’t I would have definitely ended t up in a state. 

A couple of days ago I was on my own with the girls from 6pm until past 11:30pm. When I first found out that I’d be on my own, I started panicking. Then something clicked inside me. I realised that we were all sitting down having dinner, my girls were all chatting amongst themselves and there was no issue. There was no need for me to panic! I decided that I was going to take the evening one step at a time, keep breathing and just ask for help if I needed it. 

By the time we got back to the bunk for bedtime everyone was happy. I had stayed calm the whole evening and the girls had all been superstars every step of the way. I was so happy with them and myself that I let them have a sleepover in each others beds. ๐Ÿ˜ด๐ŸŒˆ๐Ÿ™‚ 

I went to bed feeling like an absolute champion that night! 

Like I’ve written before, I started ‘College life when you’re 5″ nothing’ with the intention of helping me to discover more about and how to manage my chronic spells of anxiety and depression. Since beginning, I have done so much research and learned so much about mental health. I genuinely believe, among other factors of course, that my blog has been an essential element to my recovery. 

In saying that, I genuinely think that this summer has helped me to overcome so much! It’s definitely been the toughest thing that I’ve ever done but I feel like I’ve gotten so much out of it. 

Being in such a challenging environment and being away from all my loved ones I’ve started implementing coping mechanisms that I’ve read about, just in a bid to get myself through this experience day by day and I really think that I’m stronger. 

The fact that I kept 13 very headstrong young girls happy and safe by myself without panicking totally outweighs my one panic attack. 

There’s been a few people, both here at camp and at home that have disclosed to me about their person mental health struggles. Some of these people haven’t told many others for fear of being judged or looked at differently. I hope that if you’re reading this and that if you’re feeling a bit alone, that you’ll get some comfort out of knowing that I struggle too. That a lot of people struggle. You never really know what other people are dealing with. Don’t be ashamed. Don’t feel isolated. Please. ๐Ÿ’› You got this. We got this! Recognise you’re achievements, no matter how small they are. 

Aside from the anxiety, I’m generally doing great. Still missing home and Sally a lot, but I know that soon I’ll be home and wishing I was back in ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ so I’m trying not to wish my time away. ๐ŸŒผ ๐Ÿถโค๏ธ 


I’ll be coming home with plenty of stories, plenty of new skills, a whole new outlook and some horrifically bad tan lines. ๐ŸŠ๐ŸŠ 

Really looking forward to seeing you all back home. Nearly there now guys, no giving up now! ๐Ÿ”ฅ 

Have a great day, 
Smile always, 

Kimbo. X ๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿฆ‹๐ŸŒบ๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒป๐Ÿ‡ 

Emotional breakdown no. 264749497494957391 ๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜†๐Ÿ˜‘๐Ÿค’๐Ÿ˜ท๐Ÿคง๐Ÿค•โ›บ๏ธ๐Ÿ•๐Ÿšฆ

So this post is going to be a bit more emotional than the last because since the kids arrived at camp emotional is exactly what the time has been. Extreme emotions, both happy and sad. ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜ฅ๐Ÿ˜ด Although, I’m not going to write about any of the stories involving the kids. ๐Ÿ™…๐Ÿป

Camp is seriously full on. We are basically working from 7:30am when we wake up until 11:30ish pm, when we finally get to go to sleep. With just breakfast off, where we get to eat away from the kids and one rest hour after lunch; It’s exhausting and quite often gets too much. When around the kids which is almost constantly, you’re expected to be happy and patient and fair all of the time. This sometimes is just not possible. But the kids here are the most important ones, not us. We’re just the staff and that gets hard sometimes.


The camp bubble has started to get to me. I sleep talk a lot, all my friends will tell you. But now not only do I sleep talk but I give out to my girls in my sleep. The other night I got out of bed at 3am and started shouting at my girls to be quiet and that it was really late and that they needed to get into bed and go to sleep. They were all fast asleep at the time. I woke 2 of my co-councillors and 3 of my campers up in the process. This has since happened again. I also had a nightmare that we failed cabin cleanup. ๐Ÿ’”๐Ÿ˜ฅ
Camp is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. It’s crazy! Like I said, so tiring and so emotional but also so much fun. ๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŒˆ
Some of the things I’ve seen and experienced here so far are nothing less than crazy!

Get this, so one of the girls in my bunk goes to school with Britney Spear’s kids.. like what! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Being away from home has been hard. I am super close to my friends and family back home and I am missing them all a lot. Especially Sally! ๐Ÿถ ๐Ÿ’” There are days when I really struggle to keep up the smile. When I just want to run and sit in a corner by myself and cry while booking myself a plane ticket home. But there are also days where I laugh and smile and dance the whole day through. There are a lot more of the latter of course but the hard days are amplified in a setting like camp and everything just seems 100Xs harder. (IJC – It’s just camp, as they all tell us.)

The extremely challenging environment that is camp also has it’s benefits. I feel like I’m learning a lot about myself, my capabilities, strengths and my mental health here. Every so often I find myself taking a step back and just being amazed that I’m still here and that I’m still smiling (mostly) and that a lot of things that bothered me before camp don’t bother me here at all! While of course, some of my insecurities still get to me everyday, some of them have faded away.
Like I said before, camp is a bubble so maybe when I get back out into the real world I might be a little more conscious than I am presently but some of the steps I have taken here are huge for me!

I hate my toes and my feet. I legit freak out about people seeing my feet without socks on. For the first week or so here I kept my feet 100% hidden at all costs. Today I took the nail varnish off my toe nails and have been in flip-flops/ bare feet for the majority of the day. This sounds so trivial, but for me it’s huge.
Half the time I’m so late waking up in the morning here that during the 5 minutes I have between getting out of bed and leaving the bunk I don’t have time to even check the mirror. This is something I’m not used to at all. At home I require at lease a half an hour to obsess over every one of my perceived flaws before I leave the house.

Also, I’m going to throw in here that I haven’t had a single panic attack since getting here! I almost had one a couple of days ago but I managed to calm myself down in time. That also feels like a massive achievement! ๐Ÿฅ‚๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฝ

Today was a rough day. It’s a really busy time at camp called college week. I was up until like 3am last night and then up at 7:30am again this morning for another full day of pep and cheer. But I didn’t feel cheerful. I was exhausted and run down. My girls were being difficult and it’s super hard to motivate a bunch of young children when you don’t feel on top of life yourself. I took some time and just cried. I didn’t have wifi so I couldn’t contact home which was all I wanted to do. I began questioning if I could do this anymore.

About an hour later my girls all gathered around me and apologised. That made me feel so much better and helped to put the smile back on my face. ๐Ÿ™‚

All the staff have these days and we are all struggling at the minute with the lack of sleep resulting from college week. Everyone today gathered together, gave each other hugs at every opportunity and just pulled one another through. We are all in this together. โค๏ธ I have known these people for 5 weeks and they already genuinely feel like family. โœจ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ’›ย 

Don’t get me wrong, camp is amazing! It’s a beautiful place with some beautiful people and it’s been such a wonderful experience so far. I’m having the time of my life. The adventures have been incredible and I have no doubt that the memories so far will last forever. I’m looking forward to all the challenges and surprises that the next 4 weeks throw at me. I am ready for it all.ย 

Being so far from home is difficult but I have no intention of giving up. Just a warning though, for any of you back in ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช reading this, be prepared for the biggest hug of your lives and unlimited happy tears streaming down my face the next time I see you all. โค๏ธ Hope everyone’s having a great summer! ๐ŸŒŸ Don’t miss me too much…๐Ÿ˜‰ Also hope you guys, young (over 18 young) and old are all having plenty of ๐Ÿป๐Ÿฅ‚๐Ÿท๐Ÿน๐Ÿธ in Slevs for me! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ’›

Genuinely love and miss you all endlessly. Keep shining and remember,
Smile Always,

Kimbo. X ๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŽ๐Ÿ‘’๐ŸŒˆโœจ๐Ÿฆ‹๐ŸŒท๐ŸŒผ

One great, big American adventure. ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐ŸŒž๐Ÿน๐Ÿป๐Ÿ’ซ๐ŸŽ‰

So this post is going to be a little update of my travels thus far. I’ve had so many messages from my loved ones asking how I’m getting on but I don’t have too much free time and I also have a very limited amount of absolutely shocking quality WIFI so it’s been hard trying to keep everyone updated. (Sincerest apologies to everyone I’ve broken my snap streaks with…) ๐Ÿ˜ฌ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‘๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ I figured a blog post was possibly the easiest way to let everyone know that I’m still alive and about what’s happened so far.
Firstly, just going to emphasise the fact that I’m here! I’ve made it to America. After 14 days , I’mย not even sure it’s sunk in quite yet.
I talked about this trip so much for so long. Truth is though, I never really thought I’d go through with it. I saw the add for camp on Facebook and just decided to fill in the forms and take it from there. I wasn’t really planning on going but I reckoned there was no harm in making some inquiries. Even when I had verbally accepted and was physically signing the contract, I’m pretty sure I still expected myself to chicken out.

I just did everything I could to not think about camp. I didn’t pack until the day before and I left all the preparations until the last minute. By not thinking about leaving, I didn’t give myself the opportunity to over think things and to totally freak myself out. I’m so happy I did it that way.

Saying goodbye to everyone was absolutely heart breaking! It got to a point where I didn’t say goodbye to some people because it was getting too hard. Sally was the hardest goodbye, of course! ๐Ÿ’”๐Ÿถ๐Ÿ’› I am totally aware that 3 months really isn’t the longest period of time in the grand scheme of things but I endlessly love and am so unbelievably attached to all my friends and family that the prospect of leaving them all was absolutely terrifying! I suppose the whole anxiety thing comes in here; home is one great, big, giant safety blanket, isn’t it.

I left for America a day early because the flights were cheaper. Upon arrival, I met up with 11 others who had the same idea as me and we spent the night together in a hostel in Queens, NY. I’m so unbelievably glad that I got to know these 11 people and to be a member of ‘The 12 OGs’ before heading to camp because it eased me into the situation and made the whole experience much less daunting!


Getting off the bus that dropped us to camp I was shaking. There was so many people and I was nothing less than terrified. I quickly settled in though. Like I said, having the other 11 new friends by my side made life 100Xs easier!

The first night at camp I was a bit emotional and homesick. I was really jet lagged, riddled with anxiety and just plain exhausted. I questioned whether coming to America was the right thing and if I’d be able to hack it. I figured that feeling homesick after 1 night away was a sure sign of inevitable failure.

After a good nights sleep I felt much better. As time goes on, I’m feeling more and more settled into my ‘summer home’. The people are amazing, the location of camp is stunning and the food is great. (A little too good…๐Ÿท)


I am happy. Very happy. Although camp is really tiring. It’s hard sometimes having to be so happy and cheerful and being around so many people all the time. The kids aren’t even here yet so I’m totally aware that it’s about to get an awful lot harder! It is great though. It’s like being in a big, positive, warm bubble. A very beautiful bubble. ๐Ÿ’•๐ŸŒˆ You do so much each day that by bed time it’s like a week has passed since breakfast. It’s a weird but great feeling.

I feel very comfortable here. I’ve made lots of friends and my anxiety has remained fairly dormant which has been a welcome relief after the past couple of months! ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ˜Š

I haven’t told anyone at camp about my depression or anxiety and how I’m still on medication for this, yet. I suppose the people I’m friends with on Facebook who read this post now know. Surprise! ๐Ÿ˜ฌ๐Ÿ˜‚ I haven’t tried to hide it, it just hasn’t seemed like a relevant topic because so far it hasn’t been much of an issue.

One of the girls in my high ropes team (who are all amazing btw) made a comment when I got nervous about something small about how confident I am and that I shouldn’t be nervous. That majorly took me by surprise because I’ve never considered myself to be confident in myself at all. It was the most wonderful thing to hear. It made me feel like a champ. โค๏ธ๐Ÿ˜Žย 

All my baby steps are slowly adding up to become one huge step.

Camp was never something I actually thought I’d do; but look at me, here I am! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿฅ‘

In short, so far we’ve done a lot of climbing which I have loved. I’ve completed my training and I’m going to be spending my summer up in the trees! ๐ŸŒฒ๐ŸŒณ This genuinely has to be the coolest job in the world! I’ve met some great people too. It’s funny how close everyone has gotten in such a short period of time. I can only imagine what we’ll all be like by the end of the summer. The weather in general has been really hot and humid. Although we’ve had one kinda scary storm already. I’ve played a lot of beach volley ball, laughed a lot and have been given the nickname ‘Avocado’. (It’s a long story.) ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿฅ‘๐Ÿ˜‘๐Ÿ˜Ž

I’ve found it a little tough not being able to be in regular contact with all my friends and family but other than that my only complaint so far is that all the coffee at camp is decaf. ๐Ÿ’”โ˜•๏ธ

The kids arrive on Sunday so I suppose everything will all change again then. I’ve been given 6th grade girls, so about 10/11 year olds. I’ll be living in a bunk with them alongside 4 other counsellors and during the day I’ll be on the high ropes course. I’m excited.

I have photos and fairly lights stuck up on the wall beside my bed and I’m trying to make it feel as much like home as possible. โค๏ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿก

I’m really looking forward to the rest of the summer and all the adventures it will bring. For now, I’m going to keep taking baby steps, keep having fun and keep my chin up.

Hope you’re all doing good at home. I love and miss you all dearly. ๐Ÿ’›

Happy summer everyone! ๐ŸŒž๐Ÿ’๐Ÿญ๐Ÿน๐Ÿป
Smile always,

Kimbo. X ๐Ÿฆ‹๐ŸŒธ๐Ÿ’ซ๐Ÿ‡

Adventuring with my eyes closed. ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ™‹๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐ŸŒป๐Ÿ˜โ˜€๏ธ๐ŸŒ…๐Ÿ‘’

So for someone who said the exams would be fine, it’s safe to say I was definitely being a little too optimistic! This semester’s exams were in no way fine! I was so stressed out! I ended up getting sick with nerves before a few of my exams and then in one exam just after I had been sick, I had a panic attack within the first five minutes. It was hard, it was tiring and it was embarrassing. But it’s over and now I’m just crossing my fingers that I scrape through.

It’s summer now though! ๐ŸŒž๐Ÿ˜Œ While I’ve definitely been having a lot of fun, I’ve also been anxious. I suppose maybe it’s just because everything is starting to change from now, what with Erasmus friends leaving and J1’ing and Caoimhe going to Scotland! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐ŸŒ๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ’”๐Ÿ’– ** cheese alert … I really, really love all my friends to bits and it’s hard watching them all go off in different directions; as much as I am super excited and delighted for them all! (๐Ÿ˜ฅ)

But I’m trying to focus on the on the idea that change, although hard and super scary is usually a positive thing. Perfect example: college! <3๐Ÿ“š

With all the anxiousness of the last few weeks I think that I have figured out and put to use some new coping mechanisms that I haven’t really properly tried before.

Lately I’ve been really trying hard to focus on slowing my breathing when I get anxious. It takes a few minutes but I’m starting to learn that when I take a few moments to just shut my eyes and breath, counting each breath, ( in for 4, out for 5) I begin to feel in control of my body again and then I start to relax.

Okay next thing is a bit of a weird one. This is going to make all my friends smile because they’re all about to realise why I’m always asking can I put this song on, haha. ย So I stumbled upon this song by The 1975 that I love, ‘If I believe you’ and I don’t know what it is but I just adore the song! I think it’s just so beautiful and calming. I don’t even particularly relate with all of the words (it’s about religion, I think) but I just absolutely love it! It always gives me butterflies. ๐ŸŒธ

So in Bressie’s book ‘Me and my mate Jeffrey’, he talks about this coping mechanism where he makes an ‘O’ with his thumb and his index finger, squeezing them together and closes his eyes. Then he thinks of a really happy memory and pictures himself within the memory. Basically Bressie did this every night before he went to bed and then he began to find that when he was in an anxious situation that if he made the ‘O’ with his two fingers and closed his eyes the sensations of the happy memory he had pictured so often would begin to calm him down. I really liked this idea.

So now, I have started listening to ‘If I believe you’ whenever I’m at my happiest and most relaxed. The song just chills me out. So I make the ‘O’ and close my eyes and listen and think about why I’m so happy. (I know that sounds hilarious.) ย I’ve also begun to listen to it when I get a little anxious or nervous now. Once again, I put the song on, make the ‘O’ and it’s like I’m transported back to the happy memories. It seems to take me a minute or so of listening to the song but it really calms me down and enables me to breath again.

I wasn’t really sure of the whole idea of mindfulness, but I have really begun to see the benefits, I think. There’s also a good App that I was recommended. It’s called ‘Headspace’ and it’s free. The App encourages you to take 10 minutes out of your day to just breath and be present. It can be done at any time of the day but it recommends mindfulness first thing in the morning. However, I struggle to get out of bed in the first place so I do it most nights before I go to sleep. I try to do it everyday but that doesn’t always work out, of course.

The whole mindfulness thing I have just found gives my head a few good minutes to slow down and relax once a day. I feel lighter and less stressed out and anxious after a couple of days of getting into the habit.

-Hopefully some of these ideas might be of some help to someone. ๐Ÿ’› Although I totally know that different things work for different people! ๐Ÿ˜Œ

So, I’m off to America in 9 days! Wow! 9 days. Ahhh. That’s kinda scary. Totally terrifying, but exciting. It’s going to be a mighty big adventure. One I’m really looking forward to. Scared for but looking forward to. Just don’t know what I’m going to do without Sally for the summer. ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿ˜ฅ๐Ÿ’”ย IMG_5960.JPG

Just going to put ‘If I believe you’ interrupted only with a little Westlife occasionally, close my eyes, hold my fingers in the ‘O’ breath deeply and slowly and hide for the first month lol. ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ‘€ I’m sad that this adventure is ending but excited for the next one to start. I think. ๐Ÿ˜

So, I think this is going to be the last blog post before I bop off to America. Not really too sure if I’ll get to write over there… hopefully I will. If not, happy summer everybody. Please all light candles for me and my adventures and pray that I don’t get lost or fall over too much. ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ

Keep being brave, my friends. I hope everyone has fun! See you all in August. ๐Ÿ˜๐ŸŒˆ๐Ÿ™‹๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ’–

Smile Always,

Kimbo. X ๐ŸŒธ๐Ÿ’›๐ŸŒผ๐Ÿ„

Exams, Exams, Exams, Exams, Examsssss. ๐Ÿ“š๐Ÿ˜–๐Ÿ’ง๐ŸŒผ๐Ÿ’›

So, it’s exam time again! It’s kind of okay though because it’s sunny so I’m just not stressed out at all. Not sure if that’s a good thing or not? My exams start on Saturday and so far this week I’ve painted a Pink Floyd picture, sunbathed, played with Sally and complained about how awful studying is. Whoops. Once again, sorry in advance dad!

IMG_6599

When I wrote my last blog post I was stressed out to the max and not feeling too positive about life, but like I said it was just a rough patch. I am now definitely coming out the other side, which is kind of ironic given the timing. ๐Ÿ“š My course consists of a lot essay writing but all the essays this time around seemed to just come at once and I was totally overwhelmed and lost all motivation. I started falling into a slump and I struggled to pick myself up.

After I wrote the last post I got a lot of lovely messages from a lot of lovely people; both messages of support and messages from people telling me that they could relate to how I was feeling. I appreciated all the messages I got so much, as I always do! I’ve found writing this blog to be a super helpful coping mechanism. Even though I was feeling really rough when I wrote my last post, I felt an awful lot better after being honest about how I was feeling. The posts are sometimes almost a letter to myself to remind myself to be rational and take my own advice and that all will be okay.

When people tell me that they can relate to the stuff I talk about or even that they just enjoy reading my blogs it is such a comfort and a confidence boost. I’m not always the best at expressing what I feel I need to say using my voice, I suppose anxiety has a lot to do with that. So, by using words- by using my blog, I get to say everything I have to say without feeling nervous or scared. That’s why it means so much when people say that they enjoy reading what I write. I love that people who are struggling realise that they are not crazy and not on their own. When people tell me that they can relate, I also feel reassured that I am not crazy and that I am not on my own. So thank you to everyone who has been so kind to me in regards my blog, it really means the world!

After I wrote the last blog post, I got out of bed, had a shower and painted my nails. I didn’t feel like painting my nails but regardless I did it. After painting my nails I felt better about myself. I felt fresher. I then plucked my eyebrows and did a few sit-ups. Just those two hours that I took for myself and made good use of made me feel so much better.

I really struggled to get all my essays done and handed in but I had a few amazing friends that really stuck by me and encouraged me to get them done and in. I did it, like I said I would and I think I smiled for about 4 hours straight after I handed in my last assignment. It felt like such a weight off my shoulders and I felt such a sense of accomplishment for pushing through my mental boundaries and getting it done. I now feel like I’m done for the summer (the sunny weather isn’t helping), even though I still have 5 exams to get through. I think that exams are a bit easier to get through though. There’s like a sense of solidarity around exam time that everyone is struggling, but everyone is going through the same thing so everyone understands and comes together to support one another. Exams are more social that assignments, I have found so I have no doubt that over the next two weeks I will be just fine. It’s actually a little worrying how not stressed I am. Hey, better under stressed than over stressed… right?

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve begun to realise that I was setting too many unrealistic expectations for myself and I was getting so frustrated and upset with myself when I wasn’t achieving all my goals. I forgot to step back and still appreciate the small things that I was achieving.

I can now say that it was silly of myself to have gotten so caught up in how well I was doing. It’s easy to do though, to forget that you still need to take special care of your body and mind and not to let small things build up. I think my bad patch came as a very unwelcome reminder that I am not invincible and that I am not quite strong enough as of yet to take on the world by myself;ย I will be though, that is the end goal! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿผ๐ŸŒ

I got asked a couple of weeks ago how I deal with the really intense, low thoughts that sometimes hit me. This was kind of tough question to answer because I don’t think I’ve really figured out how to deal with them properly yet. My body goes into ย fight or flight mode and I just do anything and everything to get through the day. I break up my time and set myself small goals. Things seem much easier when instead of having to get through the next two weeks, you just have to get through the next hour and then the next. Obviously I paint. On my skin, on paper, on my walls. I find painting super relaxing and I always feel so much lighter when I have painted a picture instead of using other unhealthy coping mechanisms. I exercise a lot, there’s not too many bad moods that throwing in my earphones and bringing Sals for a walk can’t cure. I also use writing as a coping mechanism, I suppose. My blog, short letters to myself or just filling pages and pages in any and every notebook I can find at the time.

To get through exams I always find that I sort of team up with people, study with them or even just constantly texting or calling or even snap chatting them. It reminds me that I’m not on my own. It also just makes it a much more tolerable experience when you have a couple of people who you’re in constant contact with, supporting and encouraging you, and you them. Everyone’s in the same boat so we might as well all get though it together.

It’s a bit emotional finishing second year. This has definitely been one of the best years of my life and I have had so much fun, learned so much about myself and met so many incredible people. Next year a lot of my best friends are leaving on Erasmus for a year full of adventures. I am sad seeing them go but happy for them at the same time. Change is a pretty scary thing that I have always tried to flight but I’m beginning to see that change is often a great thing and that it should be embraced, as much as possible.

I am heading off to New York for the summer on my own for what will be my greatest adventure yet. I’m nervous but bursting with excitement and I am also immensely proud of myself for encouraging myself to take this step. I know that ย last year even getting the train to Maynooth on my own was daunting, never mind moving to another continent for the summer! Life is good, constantly scary but nothing I can’t face. I intend to pass these exams, have the summer of my life and then return in September to finish my degree and move onto the next chapter what ever that may be.

I’m going to keep learning about and managing my depression and anxiety and above all, I am going to stay happy, positive and smiling.

That’s the plan anyway.

To anyone sitting exams, best of luck and don’t stress too much. If worst comes to the worst there’s always repeats. The end is near, this will all be behind us soon and remember, you are not on your own. We are all going through the same thing and we are all feeling overwhelmed and stressed, so chin up! You totally got this! We got this! โค๏ธ

Best of luck and remember,

Smile always,

Kimbo. X