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, I 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. 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. ❤️
Kimbo. X 🌟🌈💛🌸