The colorful strokes of a paintbrush 🖌💛✨

In the writings of College Life When You’re 5″ Nothing I’ve been completely open about the fact that in my teenage years, at the height of my mental health difficulties I used self- harm as a coping mechanism. Right up until almost the end of my first year in college I self- harmed; although by then I was absolutely an expert at hiding it.

I remember the day I stopped so clearly. It had been the worst day in college and I was miserable by the time I got home. I was feeing sad and low and the urge to cut was almost too much. I’m not sure what made me stop and pause, but I did. I ended up taking my paints out and painting a picture of a beautiful woman that I’d seen in a magazine. I painted with my emotions that day and by the time I was finished I was so proud of the picture I had created. Something amazing had also happened. I felt a weight off my shoulders and so much lighter. Not only did I feel calmer but I was left with a picture I wasn’t ashamed of and could show people rather than hide away. This was the moment I realised that painting was my alternative coping mechanism.

After this, I began to paint on my arms anytime I felt the urge to cut, and since I have never looked back. Now, when my pals see pictures of my decorated arms they understand that I’ve been in distress but have dealt with the situation in a healthy, productive and creative way.

I’m not sure if this sounds strange or not, but I’m absolutely in love with the scars on my wrists. They’re much fainter now; but after years of shredding my skin if you look closely, my arms and legs are covered in scars. Particularly my arms. I also have some burn scars that are much more obvious. I sort of hope one way or another that my scars never fully fade away. I’m not sure why I love my scars so much. I understand for some people that their scars are constant reminders of painful memories but, I think for me they’re like healed battle wounds to remind me of how far I’ve come and how much I’ve been through. They’re hundreds of little stories etched into my skin to remind me that I am strong enough to get through anything and everything that comes my way. I guess I sort of view them as less visible tattoos that represent a happy ending. 💛

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am under no circumstances glorifying self-harm! Self- harm can present its self in many ways but regardless of how it presents itself,  it’s an unhealthy and dangerous coping mechanism that at the time was ruining my life even though it felt like it was the only way to stay alive.

Self-harm became somewhat of an addiction to me. Even now, the moment things begin to fall apart around me my immediate response is the urge to self-harm.

It’s been about three years, I think, since the last time I purposely injured myself, but sometimes the urge requires me to distance myself from whatever situation I’m in and sit and really think things through.

About a week ago I was having a really bad time of it and life was completely on top of me. I felt really, really low. Lower than I’ve felt in a very long time and my thoughts started to scare me a little. I went for a walk and just walked and walked until my thoughts felt a little less intense. I knew that this situation wasn’t okay and considered who I should reach out to.

Then I was hit with a feeling of shame.

It seemed incomprehensible that the Welfare and Equality Officer, the girl who has eventually, after so long won against life, could be in fact losing so badly and in such a bad frame of mind. I felt embarrassed and like I couldn’t turn to anyone about how bad I was feeling.

I painted when I got home. 🎨

I’m feeling much brighter again now. Life is just a little unsteady at the moment, but I know I’ll get through it all. I’m actually very okay. I just dipped a little, is all. I’m doing well again. 🐥💛🌼🌼🌼

Earlier in the year I was sitting in the car with one of my pals when he brought up the topic of self- harm and started asking me about it. He’s known me for a long time and read my blogs so he somewhat knows my story.

He explained to me that he just didn’t really understand why someone would go as far as to hurt themselves and explained that he had just been too afraid to ask before in case he offended anyone.

I am such a firm believer that if you don’t understand you should always ask! We can’t all understand everything we’ve never experienced and that’s okay. But the only way to begin to understand is to ask. Once we talk openly about these sorts of things people become less afraid of them and more open to understanding. That’s how we really get rid of stigma.

I’ve realised a lot in the last few months about how real the stigma surrounding mental health is. We’re all now absolutely fine with putting out the message that ‘It’s OKAY not to be okay’; but once it comes to actually discussing what ‘not feeling okay’ means, we panic.

Mental illness’ are real and sometimes scary topics but the more we all try to understand, the less intimidating they slowly become. 💛

I think people are far more inclined to reach out and ask for help if they know they can be honest about their emotions without panicking whomever they’re trying to talk to.

I had a quote up on my Instagram a day or two after my bad night and a student that I know from my second year replied to me saying that if I ever needed to chat she was always there and never to bottle things up. I can’t tell you how much the message meant to me. She had no idea how I was feeling but from her message I understood that if I needed to talk about how really ‘not okay’ I was feeling that she would listen. That was all I needed. Just a wee reminder that I’m not on my own.

I know I’m never on my own. I know that if I picked up the phone and called any single one of my friends that night they would have answered. But that particular night I just felt a bit like a burden and chose to talk to my Sally instead.

That’s one of the many great things about puppers: they love unconditionally, listen always and never judge or talk back and finally, put a smile on our faces with just a little wag of the tail. 😂❤️🐶

I decided to write this blog post, not long after National Self Harm Awareness Day, as a reminder that it’s okay. That you’re not a freak and that it’s far more common than any of us realise. That sure, it’s not easy to talk about, but once we begin talking, slowly it gets easier.

It’s also a little reminder to anyone who might need to hear it that it’s going to be okay. That there are other coping mechanisms. That it does get better. But also, that it’s okay to relapse or, to slip into a down patch. It’s okay, and it will get better. You will find an alternative coping mechanism. ❤️ Just please do ask for help and don’t struggle on your own- that makes things so much more difficult to get through.

Take it from me, the Welfare Officer, who is an absolute shitshow too. 🐥

But as I always say, life is so, so much easier if we’re all honestly in it together, ready to pick one another up when we trip, because trip we do. 😴

Happiness feels so much better when you’ve had to fight for it. Keep fighting, beautiful people. ❤️🥰✨

Smile always, talk always and reach out if you need to.

All my love,

Kimbo. X 🌼✨💃🐥🌸🌻💫

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I am home.🌍🐥💛

So, I went through a really bad patch there for a little while. I was quite ill due to my Anxiety. I lost a total of an awful lot of weight which I couldn’t really afford to lose and in all honesty, I was/ am a bit gutted about it. It’s the first time possibly ever that I haven’t thrived off the feeling of losing weight. Actually, I felt a bit ashamed at how much weight I’d lost. Interestingly enough though, I’ve recieved so many comments/ compliments from so many people who didn’t realise what’s been going on about how beautiful my figure is and how jealous they are of my body. I’ve felt like screaming at them and explaining that I was almost starving myself. Not purposely, but that I just could not eat and anything I ate, I threw up. I was getting sick multiple times every day and was coming home from work to my dad in tears because I was so tired and felt so miserable.

‼️This is a message to you, no matter who you are, please don’t get bogged down in comparing yourself to others because you never know what’s going on behind closed doors!‼️

One of the days a few weeks ago I went to Alisha’s house after work and had to stop and sit down in South Campus for about 20 minutes before I could continue on my short walk to her house because I felt so faint. After finally making it to her house I was a state. I could barely string a sentence together because I hadn’t eaten all day and only for her being the best person in the world and looking after me so well I’m not sure what I would have done. I’m not exaggerating when I try to explain to you how much I was struggling to keep going.

I’m so lucky like that, and I know I write this in every blog post but I genuinely have the best friends in the world. 💛 Over the last few months they have looked after me and loved and prioritised me while I wasn’t really able to look after, love or prioritise myself. They always have and always will keep me going. My friends mean everything to me! ❤️

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Last week I had an absolute melt down. There was a lot of really crazy stuff happening in work and my mind exploded. I over-thought myself into a state of absolute, irrational panic. Only for Cathal and my closest pals at the other end of the phone or I think I would have completely given into my mind and taken the week off work. I don’t cope at all when I feel my safety is under threat. Cathal made me a promise that no one would ever hurt me again; a promise that I knew he couldn’t really make. But a sentence that I needed to hear and believe more than anything. And I did believe him. Not because of the words, but because I am absolutely sure that with my pals by my side that nothing and no one can hurt me the way I’ve been hurt in the past.

No matter where I am or what I’m doing I know that I’ll never really be on my own again because I know that my friends will always answer, no matter how often I call. I’m pretty sure Cathal called into me every day last week to check I was still breathing and it’s for reasons like this that I believed him when he said it wouldn’t happen again. It’s because I have faith beyond belief that my friends will look after me and keep me safe. And prioritise and love me when I’m not capable of looking after or loving myself.

I am beginning to feel a lot better. All in baby steps. 🐥 I still haven’t put on any weight but I’ve stopped being sick which is a huge relief! Katie made a comment about how she hasn’t heard me complaining of feeling sick in ages and said she’d noticed how I’ve started coming back into her office to steal sweets again. I can’t begin to explain to you how good it felt to hear that. To hear people have noticed me looking and sounding healthier again. I’ll keep working on the weight thing but at least my appetite is slowly returning!

For International Women’s Day I saw a really wonderful post; someone’s selfie. The caption went along the lines of how important it is to value and love yourself first, along with valuing all the other amazing women in your life.

The post really made an impact on me. It talked about not comparing yourself to others (which is much easier said than done) and just learning to be kind to yourself. I thought it was brave of this person to post a selfie talking about how much they loved themselves which, after some thought made me sad. It shouldn’t take bravery to openly love and appreciate yourself!

One tip my old school counsellor gave me years ago was to stop internally criticizing and putting the people around me down. That judging others was only heightening my judgement of myself.

I’ve never really felt confident and happy with myself; something I’m definitely getting better with. But this whole Anxiety relapse has completely knocked me. I feel really fragile, physically and mentally. I quite desperately want to put on weight or at the least, stop losing it which currently is seeming a little impossible. I’ve been trying to focus on the progress that I’ve made but that’s also hard when every time I go back to the doctor I hear I’m down more weight, despite feeling like I’ve been improving in leaps and bounds.

I will get there though! I  know I will.💪🏼

Loving myself from head to toe is my absolute goal and one day soon, I will realise this goal, no matter what it takes.

 

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I have decided not to rerun for VP Welfare and Equality. Not a decision I made lightly! It’s absolutely bonkers that this time last year I was over half way through the campaign and had no idea what was ahead of me; but was full to the brim with excitement and enthusiasm. I can honestly say that I am happy with the job that I’ve done. I think that I’ve done myself, my family, my friends and my dog proud. ❤️

12 months on and I am an entirely different person! I have learned that it’s okay and sometimes important to stand up for myself- a completely new concept to me; but also that sometimes you just have to let things go. I have learned so much about people and how to read them. I have learned to absolutely prioritize my own health, an invaluable lesson. I have learned my limits and also exactly what I am capable of. I have learned to believe in myself and I have learned to some extent my worth. I have discovered how much further I can go when I take the leap and trust in 5 seconds of Bravery, and I have learned to have faith in myself and my abilities. I have made some of the best friendships and have spent the entire year so far laughing. I also don’t think I panic about the small stuff half as much as I used to! I have discovered that in the end everything gets done and works out. In all honesty I never really thought that I’d make it to the end of this year but with the end of the year rapidly approaching I will be devastated when it’s time to leave. I have formed a whole new family in MSU; but after a considerable amount of debating I have decided that it’s time for a new adventure!

I am now, despite the anxiety blip and weight loss, much more confident and more comfortable in my own skin than I have ever been. When I came to Maynooth first it was this big scary world and I felt completely out of my depth. Now, Maynooth is my home and I have since made it my mission to explore the place inside and out. Maynooth is and forever will be a home I have worked to make my safe space, but now it doesn’t feel in any way big or scary; which is why I know it’s time to move on. I grow and find happiness through overcoming challenges and that’s why I know, as scary as change is, that it’s time for some new fun!

I am going to make the very best of my last few months and take every opportunity that presents itself to me and walk away with a broken heart and nothing but the most incredible memories.

Onwards and Upwards!

I love you all.

Smile Always,

Kimbo. X 👣🐞🌼🐥🍄🌸💛