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

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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