“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

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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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