Welfare life when you’re 5″ nothing.🐥

It has been the most crazy few weeks! Welfare life moves at such a fast pace. The summer is over and I literally have no idea where the time went. It has all absolutely flown by!

It has all been pretty wonderful so far. The job has made me feel so many emotions and it’s only really starting. I get really terrified every so often, and I question what I’m doing here. But recently, when I start panicking about how I’m feeling I’ve learned to stop and breath. I’ve been through an awful lot over the past few years and I’m stronger and happier than ever so absolutely nothing is going to stop me now!

I graduated a couple of weeks ago and had all of the most wonderful people around me; friends from home, college and my course friends along with my family. I was so unbelievably happy all day and it’s a day I’ll never forget! ❤️ I can’t wrap my head around how it could possibly have been three years since my very first, terrifying day in Maynooth. I remember exactly what I wore that day and every single emotion I felt like it was yesterday.

My undergrad degree was the best and without a doubt, most challenging three years of my life. I found myself, my beliefs and my values. I’m still finding them and exploring and growing in strength and confidence day by day.

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This job keeps pushing me. I have found myself attempting to reverse back into old anxiety ways. But now, every time I go to run and hide I get pushed back out of my comfort zone and I have no choice but to do what needs to be done. It’s my job. And then, I leave my comfort zone and am always grateful for the push. Orientation week is over and I think we gave orientation talks to about 3,000 freshers. That’s a lot of people, a lot of public speaking and one more almost overcome fear. 💪🏼

In his orientation speech Paul kept saying “…all it takes is just five seconds of bravery, that’s it!” And I keep taking his advice and literally diving in! -I jumped off the pier in Salthill a few weeks ago; and couldn’t bring myself to do it this time last year.

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Five seconds of bravery is brilliant advice! Close your eyes for five seconds and take the leap; whatever that leap may be. By the time you open your eyes you’ve already taken the step and then it’s too late to go back. Did I mention I also got that blood test I’ve been too scared to get for about 3 years?! I also booked my tickets to go to Iceland for New Years to visit all my favourite camp pals. Last New Years I had a massive panic attack the night before going to a camp reunion in Edinburgh, but I conquered that fear. The prospect of the Iceland trip scared the shit out of me which was the biggest deciding factor in me booking the tickets. 💪🏼 What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, right?

It’s all coming up Kim.

The team has been amazing. I have really felt so supported the whole way along and it’s all so exciting. The Union is such a busy place! I really had no idea. Everyone works so hard but they literally all just never stop smiling and being so kind to everyone they meet. I know it’s early days and I still have so much to learn and face, but I really think this is going to be one of the best years yet.

I’ve been quite ill recently and I’m exhausted. It’s been a little bumpy but again, my friends have picked me up and carried me through. I could not function without them and am constantly, everyday, amazed by how wonderful they are.❤️ Forever grateful.

Last week, for World Mental Health Day 2018 Paul and I held a mental health coffee morning. ☕️ I got to tell a whole bunch of people that it was okay not to be okay and that we are all one big welfamily in Maynooth that will get through everything life throws at us together. I ended my speech with a Winne The Pooh quote and I have never felt so empowered in my entire life.

It was SUCH a special, perfect day. My job lets me do these things. It’s fecking class! AND having a pet anxiety bath duck called Albert in work is acceptable? I actually have no idea how I got so lucky! 🐥 I say it all the time, but I genuinely think Maynooth is one of my favourite places in the world. In Maynooth I am happy, loved, accepted and safe.

SAFE- a word I’ve questioned a lot as of late. It’s a word that means a lot to me for various different reasons. I haven’t always felt safe. Safety is a feeling I have learned to take great comfort in, however it’s a feeling that catches me out sometimes because I am naturally drawn to the situation that appears safest. I know I am being so vague right now but this theory can be applied to almost all aspects of my life.

Every so often safety is a necessity, for obvious reasons, but sometimes the safe option isn’t always the best option. If we’re safe all the time and avoid these 5 seconds of bravery and don’t push ourselves out of our comfort zones how will we ever grow as people? It’s a confusing grey line that I find really hard to navigate sometimes. So, I’m really glad to have so many people around me pushing me everyday and reminding me that I am capable. A reminder that I require frequently. I spend my life feeling overwhelmed and slip into the ‘I’m doing such a shit job’ mindset all too often.

On another note, last night I faced something that to me, was terrifying.

Earlier in the week I was asked to face a certain situation that I knew was going to make me incredibly uncomfortable and force me way out of my comfort zone. My immediate reaction was to say absolutely not. Then, I rang Jimmy, my old school counsellor whom is now one of my most trusted friends. To my great disappointment, Jimmy told me to face my fears. To choose the uncomfortable option which would inevitably lead me to a place where I could move on from a situation that’s been holding me back for quite some time. He told me that whatever I chose to do he would never judge me but, gave me a little guilt- trip thing and then told me to let him know what I decided to do. 😂 He’s a wagon like that.

So far, after about ten years, Jimmy has never been wrong. So I decided to give into his guilt- trip and face my fears. I decided to take 5 seconds of bravery and to face this particular situation head on. Of course, my closest friends all jumped at the chance to stand by my side and help me face the situation and together, with them all by my side, I knew I would be A OKAY! ❤

This time the safe option was not the right one and the fact that I could recognise this and chose the scarier option is a testament to my personal growth.

So, I faced the situation and it was difficult but I did it! I’m really proud of myself, but also triggered. The situation was a really difficult one and it’s a situation that wouldn’t have been difficult for most other people. I’m conflicted as to whether I should feel happy and delighted with myself for overcoming a fear, or sad because the smallest things still trigger me and I often wish they wouldn’t, you know. But baby steps, I guess.

Despite this, life is constantly terrifyingly wonderful and I for sure hope it remains this way. I also hope that I always have the very best of the best people by my side encouraging me on.

I hope you’re all having a wonderful week, dearest readers. I also hope you conquer something small this week. It’s a feeling I’ve become addicted to. 🐥

(P.S. Hope you’re all as #buzzing that Westlife have made a comeback as I am! x x x)

All the love and hugs,

Smile Always,

Kimbo. X 🐥🌻👣⭐️🌼❤️

 

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I BELIEVE HER! 💜

*Trigger warning: Rape, sexual assault.

I believe her.

So, I had this conversation with someone in college the other day and the Belfast Rape trial came up. This case was one that had impacted both of us quite a lot and one we both felt quite emotional and strongly about.

I cried when the verdict came out. I was so upset and disheartened. I understand its personal opinion but I believe the evidence told quite a clear story about what happened that night and although I understand that before convicting anyone of any crime the evidence has to be 100% concrete, I whole heartedly believe those men should have been convicted.

A while back I wrote a blog post on Repeal the Eighth in which I told ‘Mia’s’ story. I watched the hell ‘Mia’ went through over those years post rape. I watched her hiding what happened from her family and closest friends. I watched her fall apart but still carry on with a smile everyday because there was no way she could let anyone in on what happened.

Much Later, I watched her go to the guards and report the issue. Knowing that so much time had passed, ‘Mia’ understood that little was going to be done about the case. But still, she somewhere found this insane courage to report the incident incase her information was the one missing piece. In case there was any chance she could stop this happening to someone else.

I listened to her describe going into the garda station, being intimately interviewed by two male guards and then dropped home and not contacted again. I watched these events affect her all over again, even though she had finally begun to really put the past behind her.

I am so angry and upset for ‘Mia’! I am so angry and upset for all victims of sexual assault. I am so angry and upset for all the women of Ireland.

The men involved in the Belfast trial were never going to be convicted, I believe. No matter how fool-proof the evidence.

That poor woman’s life has been destroyed. It’s going to take so much for her to bounce back from the torture she has been put through. I watched Paddy Jackson’s statement as he came out of the court. His representative said something along the lines of “he just can’t wait to get back on the pitch”, as if that was his biggest concern.

I believe this case publicly told the story of what happens on a daily basis.

Recently I attended an event where I witnessed so many people, both men and women stand up and tell their stories of being sexually assaulted. It was such a powerful experience that I was honoured to be apart of. People have had enough. Even if it takes standing up and talking about the most intimate, personal and terrifying moments of their lives in front of strangers; they are willing to make that sacrifice and to fight for the right to be listened to! To fight for justice. To fight for our safety.

The idea that our country, the country that is supposed to protect and care for its citizens  avoids convicting rapists and then, if the woman (assuming the victim was a woman) falls pregnant forces her to keep the baby is sickening. I am so angry. I deserve more! The women of Ireland deserve more than that. The men of Ireland deserve more than that. We all deserve a better system in which to live!

I am so, so aware that rapists aren’t all men. That men are victims here too.

I saw the most ignorant post on Facebook recently. It was about all the inequalities men face and how women spend their lives giving out about being oppressed when in fact, men are the “real victims”.

I unfriended the person who posted it.

FEMINISM. Feminism is the belief that both men and women deserve equal rights. This is what we need to fight for. All genders deserve equal rights. WE ARE ALL HUMANS AND WE ARE ALL AS IMPORTANT AND VALID AS EACH OTHER! I cannot understand how this is a competition? “Whooohhooo I win! I’m more subordinated than you!” ?????

I was cat called on the way home from college today and that was absolutely the last straw. I HATE that people feel like it’s okay to degrade me and humiliate me like that. I hate the underlying feeling that I am quietly a second class citizen in my own country. I hate the feeling that If I am ever sexually assaulted I will be treated as a liar until I am, without any questionable proof proven otherwise. And let’s be honest, chances are that won’t happen. ESPECIALLY if the accused is a famous, white male.

None of this is okay.

I’m going to reiterate here that this blog post is entirely my personal opinions. I know that some people will strongly disagree. That’s fine. Just want to make it clear that your opinions are your opinions and just as valid as mine. However, I also want to make it clear that I have no interest in hearing your opinions if you do disagree with me. I am so angry and sad and broken over this. (I have tears in my eyes right now.)

The fact that so many people, men and women will not come forward in seek of any kind of justice after following this case breaks my heart. It should not be embarrassing or shameful to come forward. If I was robbed on the street nobody would second guess me. So why if I am stripped of my dignity, hurt physically and mentally and violated do people immediately question what I was wearing or how much I drank. Whether or not I screamed ‘NO’ loud enough or if I’m even telling the truth at all?

On May 25th please go out and use your voice. Please vote in favour of repealing the Eighth Amendment in our constitution. Please fight for those who need us to fight for them.

Man or woman, please stop tolerating sexism. Please stop allowing others to make unwanted sexual comments/ advancements where possible. It’s demeaning, disgusting, inappropriate and hurtful. IT IS NOT OKAY.

I don’t feel so much like smiling right now. I am angry, upset and broken.

Kimbo. X

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Sometimes, life hates me. 😂😳☕️

Hi, my name is Kim or Kimbo. Whatever you prefer. Just absolutely not Kimberly! THAT IS NOT MY NAME! Often, my life is absolutely comical. The sentence “only that would happen to you” was written for me, I swear. I can make anyone having a bad day feel better almost guaranteed, because the chances are something embarrassing or unlucky has happened to me that will make you feel better about any of your f@ck-ups. I am a disaster or, a disaSTAR as my dad calls me (it makes me feel better about myself.) And that’s me!

(That’s a bio for Kimbo Lockyer if I’ve ever seen one!)

So, this weekend I was closing the deli. I was on my own and it was almost home time. All three inside doors had been cleaned and put back onto the deli counter. Before I finished up I went to push open one of the sliding glass doors to cover up the salads inside the counter. I’m actually not even sure what happened, but as I pushed the door open it just cracked and totally smashed. I stood in shock for about a minute because I couldn’t comprehend what had just happened. Then some of the floor staff came running over after hearing the crash. They helped me tidy it all up and apart from being late home, it shouldn’t have been a big deal, right? Accidents happen!

But it was a big deal, to me. I’m not sure if it’s because I got such a fright or because I was tired or just a mix of emotions but the minute I walked out of the shop I burst into tears. I  had an almighty panic attack and cried for about two hours after getting home. I felt sick, couldn’t eat dinner and really contemplated calling in sick the next day so I didn’t have to face my boss.

Friday’s panic attack wasn’t as big as the one I had back in January when I got the wrong train and ended up in Port Laois rather than Huston (lol), but it was big and draining enough to leave me totally wiped out most of the day on Saturday.

Since the almighty panic attack in January this has only been my second proper panic attack. I was disheartened becuase I really thought I was beginning to get over panic attacks but this has been my second one in the last month. I questioned whether it was just because I’m fairly over tired since the campaign and I haven’t really stopped at all as of late. Then it dawned on me. I think I can make a connection with the vast majority of my panic attacks. The trigger seems to be the fear of getting into trouble. Which makes sense. I HATE getting into trouble, with anyone. I do not deal well with people being angry with me at all! Friends, family, anyone whose opinion matters to me.

This I think, stems from a general fear of conflict. After dealing with all the domestic violence and being surrounded by conflict for the majority of my teenage years, unless it’s me standing up for what I believe in and being really angry at someone for something, I run from conflict!

Like I’ve written before, hearing pots and pans banging around downstairs sometimes sends me into a panic. I cannot deal with seeing people shout at each other or physically fight each other; strangers or not.

I feel like this is where my fear of getting into trouble and resulting panic attacks are coming from. This realisiation is all a little exciting because I’ve never noticed this connection before. Now that I think I know what the trigger mostly is I can work on conquering it!

I am completely aware that as Welfare Officer I am going to face plenty of conflict situations and I’m not even a little bit worried. I know that I will handle them! I also know that I’ll get better and better at handling conflict situations the more I face. But I have an opportunity now to start dealing with and overcoming this fear and I’m so ready. Just haven’t quite figured out how to do that yet haha.

If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know! ❤️

I had this conversation with Ellen at some point last week all about self-discovery and how fun learning about yourself is. I think that’s why since America I’ve been so addicted to challenging myself. It’s really fulfilling to recognise your downfalls and to try to address them. It’s the coolest feeling in the world to be able to step back and actively recognise how far I’ve come from say, first year.

Little first year Kimbo, spent all year covered up in the baggiest possible clothes hiding behind her extra long hair and couldn’t say her name out loud in her tutorial class without having a panic attack. Now Kimbo, although still in extra colourful, over patterned clothes, dresses much better, has v. short hair and is Welfare Officer Elect. WHATTT!?

There are some challenges, very big and very scary challenges that I have worked to overcome. That I am still working on overcoming. Only a couple of my closest people know about these challenges. (We all have some super private skeletons in our closets.) These challenges still scare me and get the better of me on occasion but I am currently really working on recognising when I start to panic, questioning why I’m panicking and then making a decision about whether or not I’m being rational. Deep breathing techniques are my very best friend.

Although, I’m not sure I’ll ever reach the point where I feel comfortable discussing these personal challenges on such a public platform such as this blog, I had the realisation that as Welfare Officer next year, I will be able to talk about all these issues on a general level. I will be able to reassure students and provide them with lots of broad information and messages about all these big and scary things that I had to deal with and figure out mostly on my own. That makes me so unbelievably excited. 🌻

I really feel like I’m doing younger Kimbo and everything she went through proud.

So cheers to getting over my fear of needles, getting over my fear of conflict and hopefully to putting panic attacks behind me and finally, to getting some self-control and to stopping all this ridiculous procrastination of my assignments.

Lots of love and lots of baby steps,

Smile Always,

Kimbo. X 👣⭐️🌼✨🌸💛

REPEAL THE EIGHTH. 💛

“Scream so that one day a hundred years from now another sister will not have to dry her tears wondering where in history she lost her voice.” – Jasmin Kaur.

Okay, so yesterday was the 6th annual Pro-Choice march in Dublin. Unfortunately I couldn’t make it into the march despite my best efforts but given the occasion, I thought I’d write a blog post on some of the reasons I feel so strongly about repealing the Eighth amendment in our constitution.

(For anyone that isn’t aware, The Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland recognises the equal right to life of the mother and the unborn child. This amendment created a constitutional recognition of an unborn child’s life and so makes it impossible for any government to introduce legislation allowing for terminations in the womb except in exceptional circumstances.) Also, I feel like it is relevant to mention that this legislation was approved and brought into effect in 1983…

*Trigger warning, this post includes references to sexual violence, abortion and rape.

So, this post has been particularly difficult to write and I have not written it alone. I wrote it alongside a very close friend who, some time ago was sexually assaulted. This friend wants to keep her anonymity but she has both given me permission to write this post and she has read it over and approved it.

For the sake of the post let’s say her name is Mia. Purely because I don’t think I know any Mias and I don’t want to use anyone’s name that I know, given that it’s such a sensitive subject.

The exact details of what happened aren’t relevant but ‘Mia’ was raped by a stranger one night, in a place that was well-known to her, a place where she should have been safe. The person who raped ‘Mia’ did not use contraception.

Initially ‘Mia’ felt guilty, afraid and ashamed.  She blamed herself and told me that the attack left her feeling dirty and embarrassed. It took over a year before she reported what happened to the Garda and even now, very few people know about the assault. Unfortunately because of the time it took her to report the incident, alongside the fact that it was a stranger there wasn’t a whole lot that the Garda could do.

It has taken ‘Mia’ coming up to two years to come to terms with what happened to her. Two years to even be able to say the words “I was raped” out loud. Two years to feel like she has reclaimed control over her sexuality. Two years of her life to stop questioning herself as to whether or not she is safe and whether or not she should cross the road every time a man she doesn’t know walks past her on the street. It has taken ‘Mia’ almost two years to begin to leave what happened behind her and to really start enjoying and living her life again.

“There have not been the words or phrases that can accurately capture and display the trauma of what were the worst moments of my life. There have never been words invented for feelings that should not exist. Situations that should never be allowed to happen can’t be explained in ways that people will understand because they surpass human comprehension.” (‘Mia’)

The trauma of the assault was almost enough to cause ‘Mia’ to end her own life.

It was just out of total luck that she didn’t fall pregnant. By that I don’t mean that she was lucky because not one single bit of what happened was lucky, but the whole situation would have been made 100Xs harder had pregnancy been an issue!

Now, can you try to imagine what ‘Mia’ would have gone through if she had fallen pregnant. On top of the unimaginable horror she was forced to go through, imagine if she had been faced with the idea of having a baby, unplanned, by her rapist.

‘Mia’ hasn’t even told her family about what happened, after almost two years. She says that she still, after all this time struggles to say the word ‘rape’ because that makes it too real. She still faces regular nightmares about what happened. Two years on and her life is still being impacted by the assault.

If ‘Mia’ had fallen pregnant I’m honestly not sure if I’d still have my amazing friend by my side.

I like the idea of living in a country that could give both girls and women who fall pregnant, both those who have experienced sexual assault and who haven’t, a choice. I like the idea of living in a country where if ‘Mia’ had needed it, she could have had access both to clear and accessible information and to a safe abortion within her own country, that she could have afforded, where I could have gone with her; if she needed me.

I like the idea of living in a country that prioritises it’s women’s health and safety over completely out of date religious views that I don’t understand and am quite frankly appalled by.

I like the idea of living in a country that would provide me with safe health care if I ever got into a situation where I decided an abortion was my only option (a decision I hope I never have to make and would definitely not take lightly).

I like the idea of living in a country that I feel prioritises my health, physical and mental and my safety.

Right now, I do not feel like I live in such a country.

Until the Eighth amendment has been not replaced, but totally repealed I don’t think I’ll feel safe and content in the idea that I am an equal citizen who is cared about, and who’s welfare is a priority to her countries’ government.

In a Pro-Choice post one of my friends shared on Facebook, he wrote about how he wasn’t pro-abortion. How no one is pro-abortion. He said that doctors don’t want to give abortions and women don’t want to have to have them. But how it is so important that legal, safe abortions become an option for girls and women who need access to them.

I couldn’t agree with this more.

The reality is that on average 12 Irish women are forced to  travel abroad every day to access abortion services. That is 12 women too many every day. Abortion in Ireland is illegal and a woman can face up to 14 years in prison for having a termination. 14 years for making a very hard and personal decision over her own body. These statistics are disgusting.

Our country has an awful habit of concealing it’s ‘problems’ and pretending they don’t exist. Well, they do exist and Ireland’s government needs to stop ignoring the fundamental needs, and my opinion rights of its citizens and repeal the Eighth amendment.

Being Pro-Choice doesn’t mean that you are pro- abortion. It means that you agree that women should be trusted to make their own decisions over their own bodies and that we deserve a choice. That women deserve more than to be owned and controlled by the Catholic church as they have been traditionally throughout Irish history.

If you are on the fence about this issue or simply just don’t care enough to have an opinion, it is my hope that after reading this post and hearing about ‘Mia’ and just some of what she went through that you will at least educate yourself enough on the issue to form an opinion. The women of Ireland need everyone on board with this and we need to all fight together. We need to force our government to listen and allow us to live in a more just and humane society.

Simply not having an opinion on this issue is not an option. Women are worth more than that! We all deserve more than that!

‘Mia’ deserved to have a choice if she had needed one, I deserve a choice, every woman in Ireland deserves a choice.

#RepealTheEighth

Smile always,

Kimbo. X ✨🌻🌸💖

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Homeward bound! 💪🏼🌅👒💅🏽🇺🇸

Well here I am, about 3/4 of the way through my flight back to Ireland. I haven’t managed to get a wink of sleep because I’m so excited to get home, so with just over an hour left of the flight I’ve decided to turn on some Westlife and write a post. ✨

Dad currently thinks I’m in Long Island partying it up and isn’t expecting me home for another 5 days.
I changed my flight home and decided to surprise him pretty last-minute. It wasn’t because I wasn’t having fun, it was just because travelling and living out of a big, heavy suitcase on a budget is tiring. It’s amazing, but tiring. It’s been a long summer, as fantastic as it’s been and I am just in desperate need of a cuddle from my pup. ❤️
Travel plans were starting to get messy so I just decided that good old Dunboyne was calling me too loudly to ignore anymore. 🇮🇪💕✈️
As I said, I haven’t slept on the plane yet and I’m exhausted. Not only from today’s journey but from the last week of travelling and from the whole summer in general. Every time I go to close my eyes I start imagining the moment in about 3 hours when dad opens the front door to me. Then I imagine Sally bouncing over and I start tearing up. (It’s happening as I write this.) The anticipation is killing me.
This summer has made me realise how lucky I am to have a home and friends and a family that I miss so unbearably and am so excited to get home to. And of course, the greatest dog in the world! 😍🐶❤️
Getting slightly off track now, but one of my first days at camp I found a dirty old squeaky dog ball in the high ropes shed amongst all the equipment. I joked about how squeezing it would keep me going while I had to be without Sals. It stayed in the shed all summer, with my team occasionally taking it out and playing catch with it while I got to squeak it a little. I’m not sure why but I ended up getting so much comfort out of such a small, insignificant, slightly disgusting item. The ball is currently in my hand luggage ready and waiting for Sally. 😂😎
I’m writing about the ball because it meant nothing to the others on my high ropes team but regardless they never judged me for having the occasional squeak (lol) and always joined in when I took it out to play with.
I talked about home constantly in America. I’m sure it got annoying for the others but they were always enthusiastic and supportive and  listened to my stories about home and looked at the 1000’s of Sally pictures I showed them daily.
It’s because of these amazingly wonderful people that I got through what was a seriously challenging but seriously fun 3 months.
I’m pretty sure I’ve said this in another blog post, but it’s funny how I’ve known these people for such a short period of time yet, they genuinely feel like family.
I feel like without knowing one another very well we’ve been through so much together and I have no doubt that when I get home I’m going to struggle adjusting to not being with these people everyday. I feel genuinely privileged to have made so many new, super fantastic friends from all over the world. All of whom I will never forget and really hope I get to see again very soon. 🌼💛
Camp was tough! Going over I’d heard so many positive stories of people’s experiences of different camps. I don’t think I actually heard one bad report. I now fully understand why, although I don’t think it’s fair to talk about the camp environment without reiterating how hard it is.
I struggled with the lack of alone time. It was very rare to get an hour to myself.
I also struggled a lot with feeling home sick. The hours were extremely long and the work was hard but every minute kind of seems to have been worth it.
Summer has been filled with a lot of really high highs and also a lot of really low lows but I don’t think I would change a single thing about it. ✨ (Apart from maybe packing more socks…)
I’ve worked so hard the last couple of years to get my mental health under control. I decided early on at camp that I was going to finish this summer no matter how hard it got. That if I arrived home in August with a smile on my face that I could officially do anything. Well, here I am!
I kind of feel like this is the last chapter of what has been an incredibly tough few years.
***Here comes the plot twist.***
So, as most people know, I’ve been on medication to control my anxiety and depression for a very long time. The dose has been lowered and I came off the meds for a while before I started college but I don’t think I was ready at the time and I ended up being put back onto them.
I’ve been wanting to come off the medication for a while now but the doctor advised me that with camp coming up I should stay on them as none of us knew how my body was going to handle the new environment.
I kind of went to the States with the idea that camp was going to be the official test. If I could handle it, well then I had definitely put the worst of my mental health problems behind me; if I couldn’t then I still had a lot of work to do on myself.
About two weeks into camp going to the health centre everyday to take my medication just became too much of an effort. The weather was generally amazing so I figured in that respect it was definitely an ideal time to come off them. I came to the conclusion that  if I was going to get through camp it was going to be on my own. Due to my own strength. So, maybe slightly irrationally I decided to stop taking the medication entirely. This was either going to be a really good or a really bad idea.
I have now been off the meds for 7 weeks and during that entire space of time have experienced just 2, well more kinda 1 and a half panic attacks and my mood has been generally fine!
I know that I will always have to look after myself and my mental health and I know that this isn’t a total end to all panic attacks. What I do know though is, that I am strong enough to take on anything now. I know how to deal with my attacks and I know that once I’m careful and ensue to give myself regular breathing breaks, I can now take on the world entirely on my own!
I’m not entirely sure yet how camp is going to have changed me but I know that it has. I know that I am a better, stronger, happier and more confident and in control person because of this summer and that is more than I could ever have wished for.
I never fully believed that I would get myself to America, never mind get to the end in such great form. This is a pretty cool feeling, not going to lie.
So, when I said thank you to my high ropes team, and to all the amazing friends that I made and to the leadership team and to everyone from home that encouraged me to go to America, and when I said that I would never forget any of you or what you guys have done for me, I 100% meant it!
This has been the hardest, greatest and most unforgettable 3 months of my life and I don’t have a single regret. 💫🇺🇸🌈❤️
As for college and winter and everything else that is about to come at me, I am ready! I’m already looking forward to next summer and whatever adventures it has to bring.
For one final time, thank you again to everyone. For all the little things. For being cool about my squeaky ball. You guys all helped me to get to the place I’m in right now. You’re all superstars. 💫😉
Hope everyone, home and abroad had an incredible summer and I’m looking forward to seeing and catching up with everyone. I love you all.
Keep adventuring and having fun and last but not least,
Smile Always,
Kimbo. X ✨🍄💖🌸🌹💛

Above the blues. 💙

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. 😌

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. 😂💙 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 🌸✨☕️🌻🌼💫🌹 :

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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.  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, it’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.  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.”  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

#NotAllMen 🙊

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!  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 😊:

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

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  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  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 cliché 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 women 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.  ***(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. 💛

Smile always,

Kimbo. X 🌼💕✨🐣