When life gives you lemons and all that jazz. ๐Ÿ‹

“I’ve started falling apart, I’m notย savouring life. I’ve forgotten how good itย could be to feel alive.” ๐Ÿ’›

So, recently most of my blog posts have been super happy and positive because in general that is the frame of mind that I am in. But the overall theme of my blog is mental health and of course, mental health isn’t always a super positive and happy subject. ย This post is going to be about a little rough patch that I’m going through at the minute.

I feel like it would be hypocritical of me to only write about the good and not the bad in relation to my own mental health. So here I am admitting that right now I’m not really doing great, but I have no doubt that very soon I will be back on track! I think itโ€™s important to stress that it is okay not to feel okay, once you manage and cope with these emotions in a healthy and safe way. I’m also going to reiterate (I’m not sure if I’m doing this for you reading this post or as a reminder to myself) but either way, that this is but just that – a phase, and it will end!

The last few weeks I have been in a bit of a rut. Everything seemed to be rapidly falling into place and then boomโ€ฆ the same old Kimbo strike of unlucky lightning hit again. That sounds very self-centred, I know. (Just feeling a little sorry for myself lol.) ย Not that I really have much to complain about. Just a few little things have been getting me down I suppose. Not going to talk much about these things that are proving to be stressors in my life at the minute because some are not my stories to tell and some are too private for the world of interwebbing. Anyways, I am however going to talk about whatโ€™s been going on in my mind and how Iโ€™ve been trying to cope with these feelings.

Although I always say it: that my mental health is always going to be something I will have to look after, itโ€™s easy to forget when Iโ€™m feeling on top of the world that I still need to really look after myself and be aware of my thoughts and feelings and make sure that Iโ€™m dealing with them properly and not brushing them under the mat.

Thatโ€™s something I tend to do a lot. I bottle lots of little things up and convince myself that Iโ€™m fine until everything builds up and explodes. That is kind of what has happened recently.

I am very much of the opinion that at the end of the day you are the only person that truly and solely has your best interests at heart. Not in a super sad and morbid way, I just believe that we should always put no.1 (ourselves) first. In a realistic way, obviously. I mean how can one support other people and be a good friend etc. when they themselves are falling apart? You just canโ€™t!

Recently I have noticed that I have been prioritising someone I am really close to who is going through a hard time at the moment over looking after my own mind. This is never a good plan. It’s something I used to do a lot when I was younger. I would take on other people’s problems and stress out about them so much that I would forget to put myself first and end up in a really bad place. I would get ย so stressed out about everyone else and everything they were going through, forgetting entirely that I had my own stuff going on that needed to be dealt with.

For the first while of being in this particular rut I tried to cover it up – if I keep smiling the world wonโ€™t know any different, right? But as always, thatโ€™s never a good strategy. I started taking out my frustration and sadness on those closest to me. Pushing them away when I needed them most. Trying to look out for and give advice to others while letting them weigh me down. It was only when one of my closest friends, Cathal asked me what was going on that I realized how much of an asshole I had been and that I was back tracking ย onto a very slippery downwards slope into the place that I have worked so very hard to get out of.ย IMG_6112

I can’t let this happen – although it is a lot easier said than done. Iโ€™ve been having panic attacks really regularly lately. The panic attacks have been a lot more intense than they have been for a long time. This was frustrating after coping so well with my anxiety for so long. I was angry with myself for letting my anxiety take control again and for not looking after myself properly. I was beating myself up for ’embarrassing myself’ constantly with these panic attacks. For having to get the bus to pull over on the way home from college ’cause I felt like I was having a heart attack. (Anyone who has experienced a panic attack before will know what this feels like.)

A couple of nights ago all this bottling stuff up came to a head and I got very close to self – harming. I felt really low. My head felt heavy and almost sore from everything weighing on and racing through my mind. Nothing in particular had happened. It had all just built up. I took out my paint brush and rolled up my sleeve. I painted some bluebells on my arm and some funky designs. I cried the whole way through. I had no reason to be crying. I just felt so low and so frustrated with myself for letting my mind get into this state once again. I kept telling myself that I was stronger than what was going through my head and I was so angry that I had let my emotions overcome me so much that I almost did something that I swore to myself I never would again.

Once I finished painting the tears dried up as I looked at the picture I had created on my skin. I was proud of it, proud of myself too. The end result was pretty and colourful. I was left with a much clearer head, feeling a lot more relaxed and it felt like such a big achievement that I had refrained from succumbing to the compulsion to cut my skin open and had instead used a healthy coping mechanism to achieve the same thing,ย but much, much better! What I achieved I was able to show people and not have to hide the consequences away. I was not left in physical pain and I had not put myself into any danger.

When I fall into that low mindset, itโ€™s hard to think rationally about things and to use perspective, but I did. Iโ€™m still not out of this particular rut. Life still feels a little grey but Iโ€™ve started being a little more open with my friends about how Iโ€™m feeling. Of course this has helped tremendously. It’s currently assignment season and exams are looming. I have no doubt that some of the emotions I am feeling is stress resulting from all the work of the past few weeks and the work I have coming. However, I know that I can get through it, and I will!

Reading back over this post, I now realise that beating myself up over my anxiety levels was the wrong thing to do. I know that panic attacks are NOTHING to be embarrassed about, and if one of my friends was telling my story I would make sure to emphasise this point. Sometimes I am going to go through bad patches, that’s just one thing about having mental health problems like anxiety and depression, they never fully go away and every so often pop up as a reminder to take a break and slow down a little.

Itโ€™s times like this when I realize how incredible the people I have around me are. Each and every one of them has their own way of picking me back up and giving me a nudge in the right direction. Even when they donโ€™t know that Iโ€™m struggling. As cheesy as it is, I would be lost without all these fantastic people by my side and I am so, unbelievably grateful for all the little things these superheroes do for me. Friends, family, neighbors. I am such a lucky girl. โค๏ธ

For now my plan of action is to fight for my happiness back. Bad things happen but life goes on and I need to pick myself back up; which I fully intend on doing! I am going to talk it all out, with anyone and everyone who is willing to listen. I am going to eat well and paint every chance I get. I am going to exercise and get organised again. I am going to get my anxiety back under control and I am going to get all my essays handed in and pass my exams. I am going to go to America feeling amazing again and I am going to have the summer of my life. Positive thinking and determination is the only way to turn things around, I have found.

I am going to find my smile again!

Better make a start on the goals and get onto my essay that is due for tomorrow. Whoops. So for now, stay safe and stay happy and above all else,

Smile Always,

Kimbo. X

“Solitude” (Daily word prompt inspiration)๐Ÿƒ๐ŸŒผ๐Ÿ—ป๐ŸŒŒ๐ŸŒŸ

So I’ve never done a daily word prompt post, but I was scrolling through reading blogs today and I stumbled upon the daily word prompt of ‘solitude’. An idea struck me straight away and it ties in with the informal theme of my blog, mental health.

Glendalough is my favourite place in the world. I know that I am still young and almost the whole world still lies before me yet to be discovered, but as of yet I am still to find a place with such substantial meaning to me as Glendalough (Ireland) does. Not only is it breathtakingly beautiful and stitched together with years upon years of Irish history but it’s a place where I found peace and solitude when my mind was at war with itself and I felt like both my life and myself had well and truly fallen apart. I know all this sounds far-fetched and almost made up, but this particular experience I had in Glendalough was surreal and one that I still, and hopefully always will distinctly remember.

Growing up I had gone on trips to Glendalough a lot. With my family, for hikes with the scouts…(yes, I was/still am a total and complete dork.) Even with friends and on school tours. It’s a stunningly beautiful place and if you have never been before, I highly recommend putting a trip at the top of your to-do list!

During Transition Year, (I would have been 16 at the time) a small group of us were brought on a monitor training trip overnight to Glendalough. Transition year was one of the worst years for my mental health and I was not in a very good place at all! Everyone around me was really excited but I remember feeling like it was the last thing I wanted to do. I would have much rather taken the time off school and hidden away in my bed, tucked safely under the covers from the world. This, however was not an option given to me; to my horrified realisation.

I remember almost pleading with both my school counsellor, Jimmy and my dad to let me stay at home. Totally ignoring me, they both insisted that a little time away with my friends would act as a great distraction and do me the world of good. Very begrudgingly I agreed to go. Little did I know that Jimmy had given the teacher leading the retreat (of whom I was not a great fan) strict instructions to keep eyes on me at all times and NOT TO LET ME WANDER OFF ON MY OWN, which I’m pretty sure if I remember correctly, I had every intention of doing…

I can remember sitting in the girls bedroom where everyone was just hanging out together having fun, feeling so lonely and sad. They were common feelings I faced when in the depths of my depression; which I most definitely was at the time. Don’t get me wrong, Iย wasn’t being bullied or anything. In fact I was surrounded by friends! There also was times during the retreat that I did have fun, but predominantly, I felt miserable and alone.

I had tried to call my dad to ask him could he drive up and collect me to bring me home but there was no signal. I remember I felt a bit like I was suffocating and all I wanted was some space and to go off for a walk on my own, but of course, and understandably (now), there was not a chance I was going to be allowed to do this. At one stage I hid myself away in the bathrooms and just broke down in tears. Wishing more than anything that I didn’t have to be there anymore. By there, I’m not entirely sure if I meant on the retreat or if I meant on the earth, alive. Either way, it was a very low point for me.

I didn’t feel like I could tell anyone who was on the retreat how low I was actually feeling, so I maintained that happy, bubbly persona as much as possible and just dragged myself through the stay.

The following day it finally came time to head towards the bus. We packed up our stuff and walked from the house we were staying, which was in a very secluded part of Glendalough to the main ‘foyer’ if you like. Right beside the Glendalough hotel. I was SO happy to be going home and was almost counting down the minutes until departure. That’s when we found out the bus was delayed by at least an hour so we were told to go explore. Yep, just my luck! By this time I had discovered that my friend, Amy was feeling pretty miserable too.

Amy and I decided to use our time and go for a walk together. After only a short while of walking we stumbled upon a small river, surrounded on both sides by trees. We found a small gap in the trees and just settled down by the stream. I vividly remember looking behind me and being what seemed like totally surrounded by gigantic mountains. Beautiful mountains that seemed to reach the sky. Mountains that I pictured in my head to form a big wall around Amy and I sitting beside our little stream; separating us from the world and all the sadness and loneliness that I had been feeling.

We sat in silence, listening to the slowly running water of our little stream. I remember just closing my eyes and feeling a sense of peace. of solitude. Feeling safe and happy. Happiness at the time was not an emotion I felt all too often. Everything just felt okay for that little while.

Amy and I weren’t very far away at all from our whole class and I can only imagine hundreds of tourists, but at that moment I felt like we were the only two girls in the world. The beautiful silence interrupted only by the running water was like a very welcomed breath of fresh air. For that time sitting by the stream, surrounded by what seemed like the most beautiful scenery in the world, I was reminded why I was still alive. It was like nature just giving me a big hug and promising that everything was going to be okay.

I understand that this all sounds very theatrical and made up, but I don’t think I can accurately explain why that time was so special for me. I’m not sure what exactly it was that provided me with such comfort. Like I said, Amy and I barely spoke to each other while sitting at the stream. I’m not sure if it was the soothing sound of the running water or the picturesque scenes that surrounded us or if it was both. But whatever it was everything just felt ok. For both of us.

I know that time was special for Amy too. To different extents, maybe. ย I have a feeling though, that in one way or another that time saved us both. It’s a fond memory we often talk about. We have not since been back together, but it is definitely on my bucket list to return with her and to find our little stream.

I often wonder what would have happened to me if I had not found that river with Amy and if I had not had that chance to gather myself and to be reminded that I could get through everything that I was facing at the time.

I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and as sappy as this whole post is, I believe that I was meant to find that stream and I have since been grateful for being forced to go on that stupid retreat.

And that is why Glendalough is my favourite place in the world. It gave me solitude when I needed it the most. โค๏ธ

Smile always,

Kimbo. X ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒˆ๐Ÿ’›๐ŸŒธ

New year new me! XO ๐Ÿป๐ŸŒป๐Ÿ™‹๐Ÿฝ

I suppose this post is going to be a sort of review of how everything has changed in the last 12 months. In my very first blog post I wrote about how I was starting the blog with the aim of learning more about myself and my anxiety and with the intention of learning how to cope with everything better.

I have just finished my second year Christmas exams. So much has changed since this time last year! Everything just seems to be slowly falling into place. (Touch wood) I didn’t think anything could beat last year but this year has topped it one hundred times over!

This time last year, sitting my exams I was a nervous wreck, riddled with anxiety and not in a fantastic frame of mind. I was still settling into college although I didn’t realise it and everything was all still a little overwhelming. I remember going into the exam hall at the beginning of my first year Christmas exams shaking. Focusing totally on the fact that I was going to fail my exams (which I didn’t) and on the fact I had never done college exams before and it’s safe to say I was freaking out.

I remember walking into the exam hall which was filled with a couple of hundred other students sitting at desks waiting patiently for their exams to be handed out, and not even being able to bring myself to look up from the floor. I was convinced that everyone was watching me and every move I made. I never even bothered looking for my desk, I would just go straight to an invigilator, tell them my desk number and let them lead the way. I remember sitting down at my desk and feeling so light-headed that at one point I was convinced I was going to faint, but I was too scared to draw any attention to myself, so leaving the exam hall seemed even less of an option. I remember just wishing that I would faint so that I could be taken out of the room and not have to deal with the situation anymore. After a couple, the exams did get less scary but the exam hall remained just as intimidating. That’s one of the things about anxiety, you overthink EVERYTHING.

This year I was allowed the opportunity to sit my exams in a much smaller venue which made all the difference! As I’m sure you can imagine, being on the verge of a panic attack but at the same time desperately fighting the panic with every bone in your body because of being even more panicked about people seeing you in such a state is not an ideal situation. Never mind being in that situation while having to sit an exam. This year’s exams were much easier!

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I couldnโ€™t help but notice recently that everything is different from last year. I feel like a totally different person. So much more confident in myself and happy. Completely and totally happy. Itโ€™s been a very long time since I was last ableย to say that. 100% happyโ€ฆ it feels amazing! (I’m smiling as I write this.) ๐Ÿ˜Œ

The amount of times recently I have stepped back and just allowed myself to acknowledge all the little goals that I’ve achieved. Things that seem so small and insignificant, but that this time last year I absolutely could not do! Every week I set myself small goals that I must achieve: Talk to a person who previously intimidated me, go for a coffee in a cafรฉ on my own, start a conversation with at least two strangers. Small things like that, that scare me. With time, the more of these goals I achieve the easier the small things seem to get.

I’ve wanted to dye my hair and put blonde and pink in the ends for about the last 6/7 years, but I’ve always just been too scared to do it for fear it might look stupid. About 3 weeks ago I finally started the process and bleached the ends. It has taken me almost 7 years to muster up the courage to do this but I just decided f@ck it, it’s time!

Yesterday I was standing outside one of the buildings in college waiting for a friend. Some guy canvasing for the student elections came up to me and asked if I wanted a lollipop. I took one and held a decent enough conversation without freaking out too much, or obviously freaking out too much anyway.๐Ÿ˜‚ ย I asked him questions about his campaign and just simply chatted with him for a few minutes. Not a big deal, right? ย Last year, every time I saw these students in brightly coloured T-shirts approaching me, I ran the other way. I was so intimidated by them all and would rather have locked myself in a bathroom cubicle than be forced to talk to them.

During the first half especially, of first year I lived my life in tracksuits. Hiding myself away as much as possible. I don’t think I even realised what I was doing at the time. Going on dates seemed like a world away. Something I wouldn’t dream of putting myself through. This is a thing of the past. I now own a total of two pairs of tracksuit bottoms and only on the most hungover of days do they ever see the light of day. As for the world of dating, I am most definitely back in action! (Sorry dad…)

I HAVE BEEN IN TWO PLAYS THIS YEAR!!! Last year, I attempted to join welfare crew and as I’ve written before, it was quite a terrifying ordeal. When asked at the first meeting to introduce myself, say what year I was in and what I was studying I ended up freaking out so much I had to leave. This year I joined the drama society and I haven’t looked back. They were all so welcoming and are all such great people! I have had so much fun with them all and don’t feel even the tiniest bit anxious when I’m with them! That is such a major thing for me! It honestly feels like such an achievement! I am able to hold conversations with these people. I don’t just sit back quietly and listen, I can actually find the words now that I want to say. Also, I’m just going to repeat again, I HAVE BEEN IN TWO PLAYS! (and have loved every minute of each.) Not a chance that I would have put myself out there to be apart of something like a play last year. Putting on the most recent play ‘King Ubu’ was without a doubt one of my best college experiences so far!

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Did I mention that I am so, so happy? ๐Ÿ˜‚

Just before Christmas time I went on a night out with my college gals. During the dinner we were chatting about how I have been nicknamed ‘ditcher’, because I never seem to hang out with them anymore. It was only when one of the girls took me aside and explained that being called ‘ditcher’ is actually a twisted compliment. During first year I stuck with these girls like glue. Of course, they are all my best friends and I love them with every bone in my body but I was also just too scared to branch out and make other friends as well as them and be my own person. This year I have made so many new friends and I am so much more confident and now they regularly get mad at me for not being around enough. I think this is the biggest compliment I have ever been given. I love these girls so so much, but I also love that I no longer depend on them.

Lastly, and without a doubt my biggest step forward is my upcoming trip to America. I have been offered a job as a climbing instructor in a New York summer camp for June, July and August. I am officially going on a J1 by myself. I am absolutely terrified but I am going and I am going on my own. This is definitely one of the scariest things I have ever done but I am going to do it! I now feel like I am strong enough and confident enough to be able to make the best of this trip and to have the summer of my life. I am, along with shitting myself, beyond excited! I have no doubt that I will come back a totally different person and that this is sure to be one of the best experiences of my life.

A couple of weeks ago one of my best friends, Ellen, asked me did I think having this blog had made much of a difference to my confidence. I hadn’t really considered this but the more thought I gave the question, the more I realised that it absolutely has!

I ย have tried to be really honest in all my posts. College life when you’re 5″ nothing has received such a positive response. I have won a Garda youth award for it and recently, I was asked to write a post for Bressie’s charity website ‘A Lust For Life’, which is such an incredible honour!! I really enjoy writing the posts. I like the idea that my posts have reassured others that they are not crazy and that they are most certainly not on their own with their mental health struggles. Through these posts and the messages I have received from others I have also been reassured that I am not on my own. I have learned so much about different coping mechanisms and ways of managing my low moods and spells of chronic anxiety. I am more confident and happy than I have ever been and look forward to the future more and more everyday.

Thank you to everyone who has been so kind to me about my blog. It really has meant a lot and I really hope that people who read my blog enjoy hearing about all I have to say.

Smile Always,

Kimbo. X ๐Ÿ’›โœจ๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒผ

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Above the blues. ๐Ÿ’™

So, I have been crazy lucky and I have been given the opportunity to write a short piece on my story with mental health for Bressie’s charity website ‘A Lust For Life’, that promotes positive mental health and awareness. I had a maximum word count of 1000 words, which was really difficult. I had to restrict myself on what I wrote and would have loved to have included a little more, however I am immensely grateful for the opportunity! It could be a few weeks before the piece gets published on their website so I said I’d post it on here too. ๐Ÿ˜Œ

Dad helped me to come up with the title. His old motorbike was named ‘Out of the Blues’ for the simple reason that it was spray painted blue. He thought that the same title would be fitting. ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ’™ Anyway, so below is the piece I wrote for A Lust For Life, ‘Above the blues’. Enjoy…

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Smile always,

Kimbo. X ๐ŸŒธโœจโ˜•๏ธ๐ŸŒป๐ŸŒผ๐Ÿ’ซ๐ŸŒน :

:

So, my story with mental health issues really began in first year. My parents started fighting a lot, I was becoming a teenager and school was a bit of a mess. The fighting at home had gotten progressively worse and violence became a common occurrence. ย Those days were the worst, the most terrifying and the loneliest. I am an only child and I’m only 5″, even though I swear blindly to everyone that I am without a doubt 5″2, and that I am well on my way to growing to 6″. Can you imagine a 5″ Kimbo, who was mostly skin and bone- screaming and crying and shaking with fear, who had placed herself in the middle of two fully grown adults, twice her weight and size? Well, yep, itโ€™s about that time that it all began.

I still jump when I’m at home and hear any kind of crash or bang downstairs; although now it’s only ever pots and pans! Over the next 5 years, my family problems were to get exceedingly worse, coinciding with my mental health difficulties. I felt very much on my own; even though this was not the case, as I would learn.

I can remember the first time I told anyone about my depression like it was yesterday, it was one of the most frightening decisions I’ve ever made. I told one of my best friends at the time, and I only told her, after about two years of hiding it for fear of what people would think. I knew by this stage that I wasn’t just ‘sad’ and that it was becoming a serious issue. I was walking around the hallways in school with a big smile on my face -laughing and joking and being the usual ‘bubbly’ Kim. What nobody knew though, was that under the sleeves of my school jumper, my arms were ripped apart with layers and layers of cuts. My life and my mental state were spiraling out of control.

After sometime, I found myself in counselling, attending a psychiatrist and taking medication. I was diagnosed with Chronic Depression, Generalised and Social Anxiety and a few other bits and bobs.

It took a long time to find a psychiatrist that I worked well with. It’s important when you’re opening up to someone, that you know you can trust them. Over the next 5 years, I went through 6 different psychiatrists and it’s a clear flaw in the limited Mental Health services that our country supplies. It’s really difficult when you start to build up some sort of relationship with someone, only to find out that they have been moved to a different facility and you have to start all over again with someone entirely new.

By this stage I had lost a lot of confidence. I was on the highest dose of medication that I could be, for my height and weight, and I felt no better. I hated talking to people about what was going on and I found it really difficult to let go a little and trust. ย Everyday went by so slowly. I didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning. My school day would be as bad as my mood and then I would return to not a very happy home, crawl back into bed and start all over again the next day. I had come to the conclusion that life was not worth this pain anymore and that it was never going to get better. I had amazing people around me, friends, neighbors, my school counsellor, but I also had very negative people in my life as well. I had people telling me that I was an attention seeker. That I was just making this ‘depression’ thing up. That I was a liar. I had never felt so alone in my life. It is a feeling that I don’t think I can describe accurately in words. The prospect of taking your own life is immensely terrifying, yet, the prospect of carrying on in the state I was in seemed like the worse option in comparison. Thank goodness there were people there to catch me when I fell.

After that particular incident, I was moved into temporary foster care with the most amazing family I have ever met. They took me in and from the word go I was made to feel a part of the family. It was a happy, calm, safe environment where I felt like I belonged and I felt loved. I was looked after and allowed the space and time I needed to begin recovery. Everything slowly began to look up from there. I completed my Junior Cert in foster care and in 4th year I moved home to my dad.

I love to paint. I find painting so relaxing and when I’m painting I don’t think about anything else. I still get an urge to self-harm sometimes when I’m really upset over something; now whenever I get this urge, I paint on my skin instead. This is one of the many coping mechanisms that I have used to get my life back on track.

It has been a long journey; one that is still not complete. I still have bad days and bad weeks. They are just much less intense and come much less often. They are manageable and I know that they will end. My mental health is always going to be something I will have to look after carefully, but I am now perfectly okay with this, for the simple fact that my mental health has made me who I am, and I’m pretty proud to be able to honestly say that. Happiness feels a lot better when you’ve had to fight for it, take it from me.

I have since started a blog, entitled “College life when you’re 5″ nothing.” ย It talks a lot about mental health and my crazy, and often embarrassing, experiences of college so far. Check it out! https://kverityblog.wordpress.com

‘…And the bells are ringing out for Christmas Day’.๐ŸŽ„๐Ÿ’ซ๐ŸŽ…

Well, let me start off by saying Happy Christmas everyone and all the best for 2017! xo

If you didn’t have a great Christmas well then, that’s also okay. โค๏ธ Well done on getting through the day, it can be a tough one! Now it’s over and you don’t have to worry about Christmas anymore for another 12 months. You did it, you got through it.ย 

Christmas has, for years been a notoriously tough time for me. As soon as Halloween hits, the ‘Christmas dread’ soon follows. I love the build up. I love the decorations and I love the general high spirits. I also LOVE Christmas eve!๐Ÿป I just don’t like Christmas Day itself.ย 

I think that Christmas has a lot of expectations around it. A perfect day, with lots of presents, food and a big, happy family to celebrate the day alongside. The only problem with this idealistic Christmas is that not everyone faces this perfect experience. Not everyone, has the luxury of ‘the perfect Christmas.’ And for those of us (and there are a lot of us) who don’t quite fit the mould of LOVING Christmas, it can feel like a really isolating time, and a very lonely time.

Like I said before, Winter isn’t a great time for me and my mental health. I suppose that doesn’t help my relationship with Christmas, but it has just been a really difficult day for me since about my 1st year of secondary school. Usually there’s a lot of tears around Christmas time, but this year was different for me.

College has been really busy, so Christmas flew in. I barely even noticed it coming. Dad and I decorated the house and it looked fab.

Like I said before, I LOVE Christmas Eve. and keeping with the tradition I met the girls in the pub for one or two. or three or four… I spent from about 7:30am on Christmas morning until about 1:30pm wrapped around the toilet (Sorry dad) and dinner was a struggle. Apart from that, dad and Sally loved their presents which made me really happy. I got a cool new iPod, we went to visit the neighbours and I laughed a lot. We also watched Harry Potter and dad got a little drunk on his own while I sipped on water and the occasional glass of orange juice, still feeling somewhat sorry for myself. Still laughing. I feel like I should be saying it was a shit Christmas, but it was actually one of the best I’ve ever had. In years anyway.ย 

I think that because I was so hungover, we kind of broke the usual Christmas routine; Wake up, have brekky, open presents, watch TV, have dinner, watch TV, sleep. This sort of made the day feel less important and more of a chilled out, normal Sunday. There was no expectations. Maybe that’s why even though I was miserable, I had such a lovely day? Who knows! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜๐ŸŽ„ย ย I can honestly say that it was a really great Christmas.IMG_3889.jpg

I also know though, that a lot of people had it pretty tough this year. ย If that’s you then well done on hanging in there, and keep on keeping on. ๐Ÿ’›

I suppose I just wanted to say Happy Christmas to everyone, and thank you all for reading my blog and for always being so kind. It’s something I really love doing and the fact that people take the time to read about what I have to say is a preeettyyy cool feeling. โœจ

Onwards and Upwards.ย 

Smile Always,ย 

Kimbo. X ๐ŸŒธโœจ๐ŸŒผ๐ŸŽ„๐Ÿ’›๐ŸŽ…

 

 

 

#NotAllMen ๐Ÿ™Š

Last night I read Louise O’Neill’s most recent weekly column for the Irish Examiner. I read her column every week and I always find her writing so interesting and relatable. I consider myself to be a feminist and in general I find that Louise and I share a lot of similar values and opinions. I am a big fan! ย However, in her latest column ‘Stats show someone you know must be affected by a violent partner or parent’, although agreeing with most of the argument she was trying to make, I found it to be almost a little bit sexist. I’m not entirely sure if ‘sexist’ is the right word and don’t get me wrong, Louise O’Neill is an incredibly talented writer and is fighting for an amazing cause. I am in no way criticising her work or comparing myself to her. It’s just, rather than disagreeing with her argument, I thought that she unfairly focused predominantly on the abuse that women face, rather than adequately acknowledging that Domestic Violence and abuse are serious issues for both genders.

Below is the link to her article if anyone wants to give it a read ๐Ÿ˜Š:

http://www.irishexaminer.com/viewpoints/columnists/louise-oneill/stats-show-someone-you-know-must-be-affected-by-a-violent-partner-or-parent-433252.htmlย 

After reading this weeks column, I felt uneasy. I’ve been thinking a lot about what Louise wrote about and so, I have decided to write this post about why I felt that Louise’s column was a little bit unfair as I think it’s a pretty important conversation to have.

Like I have already said, I could not argue with one single point that she made on the issues of violence and abuse faced by women all over the world. I also agree that this is a subject that needs to be talked about and paid much more attention. I totally acknowledge that figures show that many more females are victims of abuse and domestic violence than men, and that more perpetrators are male than female. I am of the opinion though, and I understand that this might be controversial and some people might not agree with me – and this is also fine, but I just don’t think that domestic violence and abuse should be discussed without acknowledging that although the statistics are not as high for both genders, it is a problem that affects both genders and that it is as valid and as important an issue for males as it is for females. I need to reiterate that this blog is solely my opinions.

Also, it is important to mention that in her column, Louise does mention this, just only very briefly and in my opinion inadequately.

I am writing this post and basing my opinions on personal experience so I also acknowledge that if I had gone through a different situation that my views might not be the same.

I think that everything that Louise wrote about concerning domestic violence and abuse; be it physical, sexual or mental, is totally accurate. I just don’t think it’s fair to dismiss violence that occurs against men although there are fewer cases, as any less relevant which I feel happens all too often.

In the case of my experience on the topic, the female in the situation was the abusive one yet, the male got all the punishment and was only found innocent last-minute because of resounding evidence that was presented to the judge. But the male was presumed to be guilty from the onset for the single reason that he was male.

I also am completely aware that violence against women is a serious phenomenon and that ย especially in the instances of sexual abuse, the male is considered innocent until proven guilty; essentially calling the victim a liar until it has been proven otherwise, and this is a serious problem! *Note that I said male, just because it is assumed ย that in cases of sexual abuse and rape, that the perpetrator is always a male. This is not the case. I am also going to use my experience of domestic violence as an example to emphasise my point that the female is not always the victim.

I’ve done a bit of reading on the controversy surrounding the #NotAllMen campaign and honestly, I don’t see the issue. Basically, when women talk about experiencing sexism or feeling unsafe, it has become a clichรฉ for men to respond with “not all men.” “Not all men sexually harass women,” some might say, or, “not all men are rapists.”

I have read lots about how by replying with ‘not all men’, the point is being missed. About how when we shift the discussion from the oppression of women to the protection of men’s images, we undermine the very real problems womenย face.

I disagree with this entirely. I can see where these arguments are coming from and I think that this is such a complicated issue. I understand that the statistics compliment how our judicial system is run in relation to domestic violence and physical abuse against women. I also understand that when considering cases of sexual abuse, you can’t accuse the man of being guilty before it has been proven otherwise according to our democratic system, but clearly this isn’t working either.

I have no suggestions about how to fix these problems and not much useful advice. I just think it’s so important that we remember that not all men are these angry, violent beings that they are sometimes made out to be. That men face abuse too, and that this is not forgotten or deemed as less important.

If someone pitched this argument to me from a purely female perspective, I could also argue the other way. I could argue that most of the cases of abuse that do take place involve male perpetrators and female victims, so i guess I might be being hypocritical by writing all of this.

I suppose, it’s such a complicated situation, I can’t say exactly where I stand which kind of diminishes everything that I’ve just written. I can say for certain though that I don’t think violence against men should be belittled and deemed as less important and less of an issue, which I feel it definitely is at the moment and was a little in Louise’s column. ย ***(In my opinion!)***

Anyway, I’m really confused now and my mind is spinning so I’m going to leave it there.

Like I said, sorry if anything I’ve written is offensive to anyone or seems insensitive. That was not the intention!

Happy Monday everyone. Hope you all have a great week. ๐Ÿ’›

Smile always,

Kimbo. X ๐ŸŒผ๐Ÿ’•โœจ๐Ÿฃ

Dear Kimbo, Lots of love, Kimbo xoxo๐Ÿ™‹๐Ÿฝ

So basically I’ve totally run out of ideas to write interesting blog posts on. I’ve had a couple of great suggestions from friends, which I fully intend on exploring, including the dire state our world is in right now. One word: TRUMP… ?

Anyway, while I think I will do a post on some of these great suggestions (thanks in advance, everyone๐Ÿ˜Š), I thought that I would write this post as a letter to my past self-first year Kimbo. ๐Ÿ’…๐Ÿฝ

So here goes…

Dear Kimbo,

Kimbo is, as I’m guessing you’re currently realising what you will be known as in years to come. You’ve had a few bad nicknames along the way so just be glad it’s not Kimberley. Yuck!

So you’re in first year. You’re still young, ambitious and full of life and joy. That’ll change pretty quickly, trust me. 6 years in secondary school will fly by, at the same time though, it will be the longest 6 years of your life. Regardless, please try to enjoy these years. Make the best of them and even on the duller days, find something to smile about! As your future besto, Aodhnait likes to quote: “Every day may not be good but there is something good in everyday.”

Over the next few years you’re going to face some amount of shit. Life is going to seem unbearable at times, and sometimes you’re going to feel like you’re really close to just giving up. I’m telling you that you are strong enough. You are brave enough and you are smart enough. You WILL get through everything that life is about to throw at you, and come out the other side with a big smile on your face, still in your goofy, over patterned clothes and be happier than ever. I promise!

You’re going to meet some people along the way that will quite literally save your life. Embrace these people. Love them with every bone in your body and never be afraid to trust. For although there are a few bad eggs that you will inevitably meet along the way, there are FAR more good in the world. It is worth being hurt by a couple of bad in order to stumble upon the good people. The great people. The people who will turn out to be your heroes. Friends, Neighbours, Strangers. You will meet the most incredible people, I can guarantee you. For someone with a teeny, weenie amount of biological relations, you will end up with a bigger family that you could have ever imagined. โค๏ธ

I’m going to ask you to be yourself. People will respect you and love you for just being you. You’re going to spend a lot of time trying to fit in. Don’t do it. It’s not worth it. Being happy in yourself and having friends who like you for exactly you is a lot of fun, I definitely recommend it!

You’re going to learn some really bad duck jokes in third year while living with the Downes’. Tell them to everyone you meet. Even if people are laughing at you being in hysterics over your own jokes, go for it! They make you laugh and no matter the reason for others laughing, they will still be laughing. The more people you can make smile, the better! ๐Ÿฃ

People will tell you to put your head down during 6th year and study like you’ve never studied before. I really wouldn’t listen, Kimbo. You probably won’t do very much except for party and stress about the fact that you’ve done nothing and that’s okay! Although you will have your heart set on Trinners, you’re gonna end up in Maynooth and that will be your place! So although I don’t think you should show anybody else this particular paragraph of the letter, chill out! You’ll make it in the end and you will LOVE it.

This is a pre-warning that you’re going to stop avidly watching Eastenders. That’s okay ’cause you will eventually come to your senses and realise that it’s a shit show. Literally. Do yourself a favour, save yourself a couple of years of emotional turmoil and just switch to Emmerdale now. It’s much more entertaining ย and there’s also plenty of pretty boys in it too!๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m going to make your day right now and throw in here that you will FINALLY get a dog!! (Thanks Dad) ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š Regardless, keep begging and pleading… maybe he’ll change his mind if you put in more effort and let you get 2 Sallys instead of just one. Although one is FANTASTIC! ๐Ÿถ

I’m going to advise you to always really appreciate the people you have around you. These people are usually just trying their best to help you and in a couple of years you will learn that they were almost always right and you were almost always wrong. Stop being so stubborn! Rely on the people you have in your support system, please? You’ll see as you get a bit older that all the burdens you’re carrying on your little shoulders seem a lot less heavy when you talk about your insecurities, worries and fears with the people you trust.

Oh yeah, teachers are not all big scary monsters who give out to you for not wearing your tie and who thrive off the pleasure they get from handing out homework and ruining your weekend. Some of them are actually pretty cool and will help you a lot with all the struggles you’re about to face. (Although, there is of course, the odd monster..)๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ™Š

Hummm… what else?

Aside from the usual, getting rid of the big school bag and ‘losing’ mom’s sensible shoes… I’m not sure if there’s much else I can advise you on. I mean there is of course! I could warn you about a lot of things but I think that all the people you will meet, experiences you will go through and places you will visit along the way will make you into a pretty cool, well actually really dorky, but kinda funky gal. You will learn so much about people, the world and most importantly yourself. It’s not going to be an easy ride by any means, but I know that you will grow into a good and a very happy person. Although not all the time, 96% of your time you will spend having fun. Try to get that percentage up.

Before I finish this letter to you, my dear Kimbo, I have one last thing that I would like to say. Please refrain from proudly announcing that ‘You will never drink alcohol, that it is stupid and pointless and that you can have just as much fun without it.’ This is not true and you will regret saying it. Trust me. Also 13-year-old Kimbo, please don’t try to pluck your eyebrows. They are FINE just the way they are.

Lastly never forget to smile always,

Lots of Love, 20-year-old Kimbo xxx

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