Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Wrapping Up 2013 With a Splash of Gratitude

With 2013 wrapping up nicely in just a few short hours I have dragged myself away from the food and festivities for a moment to reflect on the year. And what a year it has been. From extreme highs to not-so-low lows, 2013 has been one massive steamroller of successes for me. I came within touching distance of my idols, realised the career I wish to pursue, made a decision to give up on a goal that was no longer sought after and most of all, I made thousands of precious memories.

Because that’s what it’s all really about, isn’t it? The memories. Funnily enough,  it’s not the things I did this year that come to mind upon reflection, more so the people that were by my side through it all. So this one is for them. A sort of thank you, if you like. A token of my appreciation. You made my year fabulous, now sit back and gloat to your hearts’ content as I show you why.

To my family ~
Now, there are quite a lot of you so I won’t be naming any names here. This is to all of you. Firstly, the Dawson side. I’d like to thank those of you that were so kind to have hosted parties this year which I was invited to; they were very enjoyable. Seeing the whole family together is an extremely rare happening and one which I cherish dearly. Nothing tops a family reunion to celebrate the birth of a loved one (or in our family’s case, the free alcohol). I wish to apologise if my beautiful face has been missed in Westport, as I have not been able to pay as many visits this year as I would’ve liked. Summer was hectic, with work taking up the majority of my time and the need for a social life a close second. I wish to see more of you wonderful people in the coming months.
As for the local fam, quite frankly I see you all too often and this will have to cease. Of course I’m joking; it’s rather lovely having you lot three minutes down the road. Christmas Day wouldn’t have been the same had I not been in your presence. Two brief specific mentions: Conor, I have missed you. Eoin, congrats on the new blog, welcome to the clan. I shall now promote it here à http://braidedineoin.blogspot.ie/

To my friends ~
In case anyone feels they have the right to include themselves in this restricted category let me make it clear – this is to the Lissivigeeners. Yes, we have named ourselves and yes it feels a bit odd sharing it publically but no I am not ashamed. There are around eight or nine of you that have filled this year with laughter and life. I am very appreciative of all of you and I want to take this opportunity to thank you for accepting me for who I am – a townie. I may have been born in Woodlawn but I was bred here amongst you wild culchies and that has shaped who I am today. I would be lost without all of you. Especially on a night out when we hit the town in numbers and I can always rely on one of you being somewhere in Mustangs. I love that our friendships were sown at the river and have blossomed this summer as we made our way slowly but surely into K-Town. I am blessed to be a part of such a welcoming, accepting bunch of alcohol… amigos. I look forward to many more memories being made with you all this year.

To my girl ~
What can I say? Another year comes to an end with you by my side. Who would’ve thought it, eh? We’ve come through so much this year and we’re stronger than ever. You’re my rock but you already know that. I just want all of these other people to know that too. Other people, I wouldn’t have a blog if it wasn’t for this girl! You’ve made this year perfect for me. When I think back, all of the best days I’ve had were with you. We have so many incredible memories to take from 2013 and I’m not going to attempt to list them all because I couldn’t. There are far too many. You know and I know, that’s the most important thing. I’m so happy you’re going to be here with me to ring in the New Year. A year ago we promised we’d be together for it and we’ve kept that promise.
Trust me, I know how lucky I am to have you in my life and to be quite honest, it still puzzles me as to why you came so willingly into it. I wish I could say “the day I first met you” but that wouldn’t be entirely true as I probably didn’t even know your name that day, so I’ll stick to the truth. The day I got your BBM pin was the day I really started to live. I wanted to live. I had been given a reason to live. Since then you’ve changed my life completely and given me something no-one else ever has – great fashion advice. I’m kidding, you’ve given me your heart and I swear to God I’ll owe you forever for that. I’ve tried to keep this soft side of me hush hush from everyone for quite some time now but with this clear admission of emotions, I have caved. I love you; always have, always will. Let’s start 2014 as we hope to end it – together.

 So that’s it, my final post of 2013 has come to an end. I asked of myself this time last year would I still be writing in a year’s time and the answer is of course yes. I have plenty more words of wisdom I would like to share with you all, though they will certainly be dispersed throughout the year (Leaving Cert and all that jazz). For now though, I’d like to say farewell to this year of blogging and wish you all a very happy and healthy New Year.

See you tonight, alcos. 

Monday, 9 December 2013

My Greatest Fear

For those of you that have been so kind as to read this, you may be expecting a typically clichéd fear. You know spiders, insects, height, et cetera. It would seem fitting to write about such topics with the 2013 series of ‘I’m a Celebrity’ having just drawn to a close. However, my fear is not something you can see, as such. It’s far greater than a dread of flying or being terrorised by crocodiles. This fear of mine is not one that I will ever be able to conquer in my lifetime I should assume, nor do I ever wish to have that opportunity. So here it is, my deepest secret revealed. What’s my greatest fear? Cancer.

It has occurred to me in recent weeks that this disease has claimed the lives of three of the four relatives whose funerals I have attended. The first of which was my grandfather who died when I was eight years old. My ambiguous recollection of him leaves but one clear image in my mind: him and his pipe. I guess you could assume it caught up on him. In the past six months I have lost another two relatives at the hands of cancer. They say it can be hereditary and that worries me. The thought of dying old gracefully does not scare me, but one mention of chemotherapy or finding a lump and I freak.

Cancer is so commercialised these days that it’s almost become the norm. Any successful soap will at some stage have incorporated cancer into its storyline and chosen a character to deal with the incurring predicament they are faced with. But how can any actor, no matter how talented, portray realistically the emotions of a cancer victim? Unless they have previously battled the disease and know first-hand what it entails I find it hard to see any such performance as plausible. Plus, what person in their right mind would agree to pretend to have cancer after going through that traumatic ordeal already? I would imagine once is more than enough.

It frustrates me that there is yet to be a certain, verified, official cure for cancer. I accept that there are different treatments available and that not all cancers are terminal but what I can’t accept is this seemingly worldwide belief that this disease will forever be irrepressible. How is it possible that we have sent people to the moon and yet we have not made a definite discovery in the area of carcinogens?  People are employed globally to work full-time towards finding this long-awaited cure yet they never prevail. To say I am angry would be an understatement and to suggest that I am afraid of becoming ill makes little of my turmoil. I need there to be some finding, some revelation that will ease my worries. In reality I will never awake to such news. What I can guarantee, though, is that I will attend many more funerals of fatalities of this disease and it could one day even be the foundation of my own.

I am not so much afraid of being diagnosed myself as I am of others nearest to me receiving such news. To even consider any of my loved ones being diagnosed brings about an overwhelming sensation of numbness. How would I cope with such news? No words could describe it. I would break in that moment, my whole world would shatter into a thousand jagged fragments and that would be it. No more would become of me. I see programmes on TV where people have been told they have three months to live and they step outside, guns a blazing, ready to make the most of what time they have left. The strength that must take is beyond my comprehension. I know personally that I could never show such courage. But, dare I say it, perhaps that is one positive which can be taken from such a life-altering experience. You learn to appreciate life for what it is, not what it might be or what it could’ve been. Cancer does not have time for “what ifs”. Cancer does not wait around until you feel you are ready to say goodbye. You can rely solely on what the doctor said but at the end of the day, unless this doctor can see into the future or is in fact God Himself, I would strongly advise against predictions. Doctors told my family that my uncle, who died Thursday last, had but a few weeks to live. That was five years ago.

I guess my reasoning behind this post is that I want to get people to be more appreciative of what they have and what they don’t have. Cancer is not restricted to any one age group or type of person. Just because you smoke doesn’t mean you’re going to get cancer. But at the same time, just because you eat well and look after yourself doesn’t make you immune either. My uncle was what you could consider a grade A human being. He ate well, kept extremely fit, didn’t smoke, didn’t drink, and went for regular check-ups… Cancer spread all over his body and all he could put it down to was chance. What was the chance he’d be diagnosed with cancer? What was the chance he’d fight the battle for over five years? And what was the chance that after five years of waiting his death would still cause so much heartache?

Like I’ve said, cancer is unpredictable. It’s a disease which will loom over each of our existences for as long as we will live. The only time we will truly have defied cancer is when we die; how ironic. Don’t wait until the news gets in that you have been affected by this disease. Do something about it now. Visit a relative, say a prayer, for God’s sake even write a blog post. Just don’t let it creep up on you like it has done to me. I can assure you that none of us will escape the wrath of cancer. No-one is that lucky, regardless of what the doctor says.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Confronting the Fears and Speculations of Counselling

With Mental Health Awareness Day just around the corner (10th October) I thought now the appropriate time to write about what some may consider a taboo subject – counselling.

I completely understand the awkwardness surrounding the topic. Counselling is an extremely intimate, personal experience that not many people would be happy to openly discuss, especially on the internet. I, however, am not afraid to delve deep into the mystery and stigma associated with an unquestionably beneficial service.

In an attempt to loosen the grip on those ropes of tension by which counselling is grasped by you lot, I wish to speak to you about my own bout of therapy. As many of you may already know, and as I have already shared with you in previous posts, I have experienced my fair share of trauma these past few years. Although I am proud to say I faced a large amount on my own and pushed through, I would’ve fallen more than a few feet short had I not made the decision to speak to the school counsellor. I will never forget that day because it was the best decision I’ve ever made. I was the definition of an absolute wreck and I felt less than worthless. Going into her pokey room that afternoon with nowhere to hide, I firmly believed no amount of professional help could save me – I was already dead inside.

I spent over nine months battling through each little war I faced into. During that time I was asked to leave the school, which I undoubtedly refused to do. I was appalled that an institution who supposedly had a care team watching my every move could even suggest I run away from my problems. As part of an “agreement” which would allow me to remain a student in the school, I was obliged to attend counselling with an alternative counsellor outside the school walls.

By the end of the nine gruesome months I had attended sessions with three different counsellors, only one of which I actually benefitted from. Despite my unsuccessful encounters with the other two, I would not be here writing this today were it not for that one counsellor that stood by me through my darkest hours. You won’t be surprised to hear that the one counsellor I hold all the gratitude towards is the first one. The counsellor I chose to speak to without any outside influence.

From my own experience I can tell you first-hand that counselling really did save me. I had other outlets I relied on too, obviously, such as writing, music and speaking to friends, but nothing helped me more than the realisation that I needed professional interference. Counselling is useless and a complete waste of time if you don’t believe you need to be there. Anyone can be pushed into an hour a week of some stranger reminding you in polite terms how fucked up you are. The only time that is beneficial is when you agree with them from the bottom of your heart and you’re not kidding yourself. For one particular counselling service I was placed on a six week waiting list, just for one session. If you’re not committed to the help you’re receiving don’t waste your time, or theirs. There are plenty of people out there dying (quite literally) for the opportunity you are being granted and ironically taking for granted.

What I’m trying to say is that when you open up to the idea of counselling, the rewards at the end of your final session are priceless. One thing I learned from my time there was communication. I always struggled to express my feelings in the correct manner, leading to a massive build-up of frustration within me. Even a few weeks into the sessions and I could feel an improvement – both mentally and emotionally. I felt the knots inside of me begin to untangle themselves. Another lesson I learnt was how to trust in someone. I don’t mean the ‘I trust you with my secret’ kind of trust; I mean the ‘I trust you will save my life’ kind. I finally found someone I knew would remain loyal to me no matter what I told them, no matter how I spoke to them, and no matter how awfully I treated them on occasion. I realised that regardless of how problematic I was, this person would never stop believing in me. In my case, this person was a female. But having worked with both male and female counsellors I believe it’s simply down to whoever you connect with first. For me, it was a woman named Grace. A complete stranger when I initially spoke to her who became my saviour overnight.

If it was up to me, every faculty of education would provide a counselling service for students all year round. You can’t predict when someone will need help. Feelings aren’t timetabled; you can’t expect someone to avail of the services simply because they are only on offer this week and it’s either now or pay for it privately outside of school. Counsellors should be employed in every school and by this I am not referring to career guidance teachers who claim to be a “guidance counsellor” on the side. No, I mean an official counsellor whose only concern is the mental wellbeing of the students wearing that particular uniform. In my school we are currently being assigned slots in which we must decide our careers with the guidance counsellor. These slots are fifteen minutes long. If my school can only afford to designate fifteen minutes per student for the entirety of the school year to career advice, how can anyone expect a student to approach this teacher to discuss personal issues which may take longer than the assigned time to resolve?

One day when all schools have a full-time counsellor in place, I hope students are less afraid to speak out than we all seem to be right now. It’s great to see the progress being made in promoting suicide awareness, but could we not take it a step further and do something which could possibly prevent it from happening in the first place? Maybe if counselling wasn’t seen as such a shameful service more people would be brave enough to make that one decision that could save their life. Young people in particular need to stop being so scared of asking for help. I’m not alone in saying that you will not regret it. I think one of the best feelings of my whole experience was knowing that if I ever did relapse, I had a safety net there to pick me up again.

If there is anyone reading this and considering getting professional help, I would encourage you that the sooner you speak up, the better. It can be a long road to recovery but the journey you are taken on is so worthwhile. I learnt more about myself in those nine months than I ever could have in my seventeen years. I can promise that you will too. The only regret you’ll have is that it took a seventeen year old ex-counselee to persuade you to seek the happiness everyone in this world deserves, including you.

Monday, 23 September 2013

A Rumour a Day Keeps the Gossipers at Bay

I have found that in the past few months there have been a few people relentlessly conjuring up rumours about me in an attempt to destroy my relationships. These people, who I have fantasized punching on more than one occasion, mean absolutely nothing to me. Therefore I should mean nothing to them, right? It appears not to be the case. Being so fixated on my life, I would imagine they spend a good 70% of their time plotting ways to attack me and make my life miserable. Though they have fantastically failed, their games are becoming quite like a vexatious kid bouncing a ball outside your window while you try to watch Grey’s Anatomy. At first, it’s cute and laughable. But after four or five bounces you just want to take the ball, stick a knife into it, and throw it into a heap of cow shit in the field next to their house.

I find rumours a little hard to get my head around. By that I mean I don’t understand where they come from, why they are created, and who could be bored enough with their own life to take such a profound interest in someone else’s. If you’re that bored, why not make up something about yourself and spread it. It could become a new trendy hobby, or something. What fascinates me the most is the depth these stories can reach. The amount of detail included is phenomenal. The location, the individuals involved, their names, their cats’ names, their shoe size, the time of day, the TV show that is usually on at that time that they should’ve been glued to but they weren’t because they were too busy having a threesome blindfolded with a horse in a swimming pool. Literally, you people that come up with rumours should be accomplished authors by now, ‘cause your imagination is fucking flawless. If you want an outlet for your thoughts about others, make a blog – it’s great for talking shit about people and getting away with it. Don’t talk shit verbally, that’s just rude.

On a more serious note I’d like to ask why exactly people take such pleasure in spreading rumours. Is it a sadistic behavioural problem? Do you need help? So you started a rumour and it circulated the town in an enlarged game of Chinese whispers – what have you personally gained from it? Recognition? No. Respect? No. Friends? Temporarily, maybe. A reputation? Yes. A good reputation? No, you’re a shit-stirrer. All that leaves you with is the knowledge that you’ve fucked with someone’s life. Does that make you happy? If yes, you have a sadistic behavioural problem and you need help.

In essence, spreading rumours is like taking drugs. Once is never enough and the pleasure is never satisfactory. So you do it again and again, and eventually it becomes second nature to you. But after a while it looks like you’ve sniffed too much powder and society notices the bullshit beginning to shoot up your nose at the same rate that it’s flying out of your mouth. People begin to wonder where you obtained all of the information you’re sharing and question how much of their own information you may have already twisted into a finger-lickin’ good story. When these people realise that what you’ve been telling them are in fact lies, where do you go from there? No credibility, no dignity, no trust, and no respect – you’re undeniably pathetic. And what do you have to show for it? A career in children’s fiction, perhaps.

 As I sit here writing this, I can feel the frustration bubbling inside me at these dynasties that enjoy tampering with peoples’ lives. Then I start to think of the other folk who keep the rumours alive. The gossipers as I like to call them. Are they partially to blame? Of course they are. They’re the oxygen that fuels the fire and keeps it burning lives. Now I’m not claiming executive powers here and suggesting I have never gossiped. I could not claim to be a woman if I hadn’t. Gossiping is healthy to a certain extent. But when you hear a rumour that you know isn’t true and you decide not to confront the people discussing it, you may as well have started it. You may not have produced this rumour, but you’ve bloody well endorsed it.

Rumours are most definitely an issue amidst our young generation. We seem to have mastered spreading stories as if it is some sort of art. Especially if you dislike the person whom it is referring to. God, I could write a whole other blog post on potential rumours about people I dislike / borderline hate. If these persons I dislike continue to aggravate me further I might just consider it. NAMES INCLUDED. I just love being cruel, it's far too much fun. (I have a sadistic behavioural problem and I am getting help).

Monday, 16 September 2013

The Lyrics That Define My Life

It has become quite apparent to me that when I am lacking the inspiration to write, I turn to music as an alternative source of expression. Then with a little encouragement, I decided I would dedicate a blog post solely to lyrics. By this I mean I’m going to share with you my all-time favourite lines from songs on my iPod, and explain to you why it is that I love them so very much. If you fear my musical interests are not to your liking, fear not – this is entirely focused on the words, not the thundering drums or screaming, hell-bent vocalists.

“Tears stream down your face, when you lose something you cannot replace” – Fix You, Coldplay

I’m sure you’re familiar with these lyrics taken from one of the most iconic songs of the’ noughties’. Pretty self-explanatory this one – if I listen to it with enough concentration on the words, they make me cry. Shocker I know, I never cry. I think I actually cry even more when I play it on guitar. I get way too into it.

“Is this what it feels like, finding out that I’ve got the guts to say anything” – Guts, All Time Low

As one of my favourite songs by this band, this line fills me with self-belief and the strength to keep doing whatever it is that I’m doing. Be it helping a friend, sharing my opinion or even writing these blogs, all it takes to get me really pumped is a listen to this song; that line in particular.

“Bid my blood to run, before I come undone, save me from the nothing I’ve become” – Bring Me to Life, Evanescence

All that comes to mind when I hear those lines is sitting in the car park in Tesco late one evening over the Christmas holidays a few years ago, hating life. It was the year I woke up Christmas morning and spent over two hours crying in bed. How depressing, right? It also reminds me of my younger cousin once ripping my sleeves open in front of my whole family so he could “check me”. How thoughtful of him. Little shit.

“You shoot me down but I won’t fall, I am titanium” – Titanium, David Guetta feat. Sia

Ah, Titanium. A song that continues to plague me to this day. Not that I mind, though. Ever since I played it for a girl’s Leaving Cert music practical, it has literally haunted me. I hear it everywhere. But like I said, I don’t really mind. It reminds me of some good memories and even begins to make me regret the bad ones. And besides all the personal shizz, it’s still a tune.

“Life’s too short to even care at all” – Cough Syrup, Young the Giant

Most people, myself included, probably wouldn’t know this song if it wasn’t for Glee, which is why I have linked the Glee version, and also as that is the version on my iPod. I like to think that I live by the message of this lyric but as always, life happens and not giving a shit becomes less of an option. I suppose it’s a good thing that I’m usually forced to care because when I don’t care, I’m very much a bitch.

“When everything feels like the movies, yeah you bleed just to know you’re alive” – Iris, The Goo Goo Dolls

Has my life ever felt like a movie? Yes. Have I ever bled just to feel alive? Yes.

“I kissed a girl and I liked it” – I Kissed a Girl, Katy Perry

Catapulting Ms Perry onto the music scene, this song was released in 2008 when I was in 1st year of secondary school. I guess when I used to sprint upstairs to listen to this song every day after school we should’ve all put two and two together.

“We started out; I’d forget your name. The more you smiled at me, the more I lost my way” – Roses in the Summertime, Keywest

A girl. Small bit shorter than me. Quiet. Dark hair. Funny run. Observing her. I like her. What’s her name? Where’s she from? Nice smile. Good teeth. Does she have a boyfriend? I want her. Could she ever want a girlfriend? Could she ever want me? Hmm. Challenge accepted.

“I promise I’m always there, when your heart is full of sadness and despair” – Footprints in the Sand, Leona Lewis

Friendships are more important to me now than ever before. Especially since a few have shipped out and started college. The thought of losing them is terrifying. Which is why I felt a surge of relief and emotion come over me when my best friend played this song and told me she thought of me when she listened to it. I’m blessed, I know I am.

“And I know I may end up failing too, but I know you were just like me with someone disappointed in you” – Numb, Linkin Park

I have failed people many times in my life. More than the average person, I would imagine. People had expectations of me and I disappointed. But I’m not the first person to let someone down, nor will I be the last. Don’t set the bar so high for someone if you can’t reach it yourself first.

“A certificate on paper isn’t gonna solve it all, but it’s a damn good place to start” – Same Love, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Mary Lambert

I remember being told about this song by a friend way before it had been released. I didn’t think much of it – too political for my liking. But then it hit me just how significant that song could end up being and how much support it could garner for the cause. For same-sex marriage. Now when I hear this song it makes me feel all warm and gooey inside. I’m a small part of a massive community. And I couldn’t be any more proud.

“The truth never set me free so I did it myself” – Careful, Paramore

This line reflects and sums up my whole experience of bullying in my school. I spoke the truth; I had no reason to lie. I was supposed to be the victim. I was supposed to be forever grateful to my principal for making the pain stop. I wasn’t believed. I wasn’t helped. I will never be grateful for anything that person does for me. She could’ve saved me and she didn’t. I saved myself. I got myself through it, no-one else did. I guess that explains why I still hold so much anger towards that individual.

“Explain to me how it came to this, take it back to the night we kissed” – Before the Worst, The Script

This somehow became my heartbreak song a few years ago and subsequently I tend not to listen to it anymore. Too many emotional scars formed during these three and a bit minutes.

“I know I’m finding it hard to breathe, and I’ve been drowning in my own sleep” – Rescue Me, You Me At Six feat. Chiddy

Sitting in the middle of one of my Junior Cert pre-exams, head down on the desk listening to this song. Not caring about the task at hand. Too focused on the pain of being alone and misunderstood in a room full of people that claimed to know me. Then being asked to remove my Paramore hoodie thinking to myself, is that really all you teachers are concerned about? Not the tears streaming down my face, no?

“All the times that we shared, every place everywhere, you touched my life” – I’ll Always Remember You, Hannah Montana

Yes, this is Hannah Montana. No, I’m not ashamed to say I was a fan. This is a song about parting ways with high school friends after ‘graduation’, so I never imagined I’d be listening to it at the end of 2nd year knowing that was goodbye to my best friend of eleven years. I knew I shouldn’t have missed her, but I did.

“Still I fight with my pen in my hand held tight, writing protests songs tonight, ‘cause I’m still here” – Learn My Lesson, Young Guns

Kind of reflects my story, doesn’t it? Except I’m writing blog posts, not songs. Close enough.

“Let ‘em wonder how we got this far, ‘cause I don’t really need to wonder at all” – Still Into You, Paramore

Where to start with this song? God, I think this could be our song. So first of all we have proved the whole county wrong by still being together now. Fifty-nine kilometres apart, an hour and a half bus journey away, and 14 months in the bag? I think it’s safe to say we’ve silenced the sceptics. It’s surely understandable so to tell you I cried hysterically when Paramore played this as their final song at their Dublin show two weeks ago. It’s our song, though. I had a right to be totes emosh. Isn’t that what happens when you’re in love?

Saturday, 31 August 2013

When It's Finally Time To Leave Home

College years are, or so I’ve heard, the most memorable years of a person’s life. Endless late-night bashes, drunken hazes, detrimental hangovers and fuck-where-am-I mornings, all thanks to the freedom you are duly granted on registration day.

To get to this student sanctuary, though, an implausible amount of stress and strain must first be endured. They call it the Leaving Cert, but it’s widely known to us young’uns as devil spawn smeared on a page or something like that.

I can only imagine the infinite joy felt when your place in the student sanctuary of your choice is confirmed by means of The Brown Envelope. But after the champagne (or Bulmer’s) is poured and the cake is sliced, how many people are truly ready to take that step into the unknown abyss that is college? If it had been me going into the school a few weeks ago after a sleepless night full of tossing and turning, I would’ve handed that no-good, dirty-rotten, pig-stealing great great envelope back and said “We’ll try again next year, perhaps”. No way in hell could I imagine myself floating off to college now. Na-ah. No thanks. There are some things in life I’m simply not ready to part with just yet.

My bedroom would be a prime example. I would, and soon will be, lost without my Sliderobe mirrors and my king-size bed. Knowing that four years of my life are to be spent in a single bed was a hard enough pill to swallow, and then I heard the other college room rumours. Horrible, eye watering rumours. Can it possibly be true that some rooms have… no mirrors? U.L’s Student Union better watch out for me on the prowl next year if my room does not reflect myself from some angle. And I’m just assuming it would be “bad manners” to have my iPod speakers blaring at my chosen volume level while others sleep opposite and adjacent. Boo, you whores.

It gets worse than simply losing your personal space. What in the name of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John am I supposed to have for dinner every evening?! Four years on pasta and noodles will not suffice. Thus suggesting the skill of cooking must be acquired pre-leaving-home. See? These are the hidden requirements you failed to make note of in those university brochures. Probably because they were written in there’s-no-such-fucking-thing, font size 1.9.

So while you’re starving and short a few mirrors, you decide to venture over to the on campus shop (which supplies all you need for your college life – vodka and Panadol) in order to re-fill your stomach and ego. All’s well and good until you realise something: you’re shit broke. Borrowing money from the ‘rents is no longer an option unless you own shares in FedEx or something (in which case money shortages would never be a concern anyway). And for those of you with no weekend wages coming through, I bid you farewell. For we will most likely find your body tangled up in a ball beside your single bed, teeth gnawing into the leg of your dresser, eyes squeezed shut to protect from the splinters firing at you with every mouth-watering munch.

If I am yet to terrify you, think of all the dark, unfamiliar faces that undoubtedly will. I know people frequently speak of how they can’t wait to leave the town they grew up in, but think about that a second longer. In your new place of residence the days of “Y’know yur wan down the road” are long gone. You will NEVER know who your one down the road really is and if you do, you haven’t moved far enough away from home yet. What I’m trying to say is, wasn’t it sort of nice back home knowing everyone and everyone knowing you? Feeling a part of something. In college, the most you’ll ever be is a face in a club that would “get it”, or if you’re lucky, a name on a list of people in a club that already “got it”.

I guess you could label me a cynic or just someone in denial that they are not attending college this Fall. In essence, however, I’m very much a realist. I may have slightly exaggerated the points above that I have made but nonetheless they are factual and accurate. You will miss your own bedroom whilst in college – fact. You will be in a permanent state of hunger – fact. And you will need a larger mirror regardless of the depth of your vanity – double fact.

Nevertheless, I will be prepared for 3rd level education. I will bring with me, alongside my kitchen sink, my Sliderobe mirrors and have them built in to my spacious college room. I will then proceed to hire the services of Gordon Ramsay who will reside on campus and be the cook for my house for the duration of the year (I can afford him as I own shares in FedEx, btw). Then, finally, I will remove the single bed of my blissfully plastered housemate and attach it onto my also single bed, hence creating a double bed. I think that plan suitably fits the ideology and fantasy surrounding college life, don’t you?

Friday, 2 August 2013

Into The Depths of Depression

I have often wondered what it would be like to have guest writers on my blog. And now, low and behold, it is happening. The following paragraphs are personal responses from six individuals who shall not be named for the purpose of this post. Responses to what, I hear you ask. Well, I asked each of them ‘What does depression feel like?’ and gave them a week to ponder their statement. After a long week of fidgeting and impatience, I have finally gathered all of their responses. This is an intense insight into the minds of those who have been broken, and who have survived to tell their tales. You have all heard my story in previous posts. Now, this is their story…


The first word that comes into my head is darkness. It’s like a sky full of black clouds that build up over a few days, complete blackness, no light whatsoever, no glimmer of hope - just negativity. It’s a darkness that creeps over you, leaving you feeling sad, anxious, helpless, worthless, miserable, angry and empty. You get an awful, numb pain in your chest, a lump in the back of your throat and all of a sudden the tears start to flow. They seem to flow endlessly until you can’t breathe.

 Eventually the tears stop, but that’s when you feel nothing; nothing at all. It drains all of your emotions. It takes everything from you and leaves you numb, lifeless and hollow. You experience loss of appetite and insomnia. You feel like you're in a massive pool stuck in the middle and sinking. You feel tied down - both physically and mentally .It’s almost like silent screams, longing to escape the darkness but no-one notices, no one hears. You're completely on your own, struggling with all the bullshit life throws at you.

 It’s a never ending emptiness. It’s horrific.


There are definitely a number of words I could use to describe my feelings during my depression - jealousy, anger, hatred, paranoia, devastation, loneliness, insecurity… The list goes on. I'm lucky to have survived it… many don't. But thanks to my good friends and family, counselling and a bit of an epiphany, I'm still here.

I guess for me it all started the first time I lost someone close to me, and ever since then feelings of depression have just become a part of who I am. The main trait of my depression that I will describe was being a cutter. I guess being a cutter was a beautiful secret for me, but little did I know that it would become an endless cycle. I was always lost and lonely, feeling like I had no-one to turn to. I didn't care about the world outside of my own head, just as long as I could cut myself into a bloody mess and listen to the same song over and over again. I didn't care about who I hurt. I pushed all of my friends away and I became a compulsive liar. I hated the world and everyone in it, but I had no idea why I was so angry. I used to have horrific dreams about brutal murders every night… I barely ever slept. So I started taking valium to help me sleep and things only got worse from there.

By this stage it had been three years since I had started to have feelings of depression and cutting had become part of who I was. Eventually I couldn't sleep without bleeding at least once. Everything about me changed in the space of three years.

It wasn't for a long time after that, that I became happy again. My parents sent me to counselling which I attended for almost a year, and slowly but surely I began to get better. I still have my bad days but now I wear bracelets on my left arm - each one representing someone I love, reminding me that every time I hurt myself I'm hurting them too. Depression is a disease. It took over my life and changed who I was. Even now as I sit here writing this, I see the scars and I can't help but think about how different my life is now, and how much I have lost because of my depression. I'm not asking for anyone to feel sorry for me or empathise with me. This is just me telling my story. A story about depression.

"I'll never keep it bottled up, and left to the hands of the coroner. Be a true heart not a follower, we're not done yet… "


Depression. For such an insignificant word, it holds so much power over so many people. It consumes their lives. Between the advancements in personal and social technologies, as well as the increased awareness surrounding this sensitive issue, it seems more people than ever are suffering from depression.

I myself have had my own experiences with depression and it is something I'm not proud of. For me there is almost an element of shame attached to what I just admitted. Just talking about it is one of a handful of things that can send me into a pyrotechnic rage. That's because, in my mind, I had no obvious reason to be depressed. From the outside looking in I had everything… i.e. I was talented as fuck! However, this was not clear to me at this particular juncture. I had, what some might call, a group of 'toxic' friends. Even though I liked these guys I did not fit in with them… at all! I ended up losing sight of who I was.

On top of all that, I had a fucked up ending to an extremely intense and strange relationship. These were two significant occurrences in my life. They led me to seclude myself in my room, where I would immerse myself in the alternate realities of my favourite TV shows. Those hours spent glued to the screen allowed me a brief respite from the feelings of loneliness, inadequacy and angst that churned constantly deep in my gut.

Some months later, it became apparent to me that I had become touchier than a septic bum boil, excuse my crudeness. It took only the slightest thing to send me into an explosive tirade; my coping mechanism was to rage at whatever annoyed me! I had serious anger issues. It was only after a particularly bad fight with my father that I realised I had a problem. I had been bottling up my emotions, ignoring the fact I was depressed and I had become consumed by anger in the process.

With this realisation, I decided to do something… anything... to change my life. I became active once again and found ways of channelling my anger (smashing things!!!). I then proceeded to spill my guts, metaphorically, to a few close friends and that really helped put my demons at ease. I began to enjoy the little things in life again, such as ice-cream, long cycles and sunny days (the few that we had that is!). It took a long time and a lot of effort after that before I was truly happy again. Because let’s face it, happiness is difficult to attain - it requires effort and the ability to focus on the positives in life, which is not an easy task. Things are good for me right now… however long that lasts, I don't know. But I'm going to keep focusing on the positives in my life in the hope that I'll beat this son of a bitch they call depression.

The Big Cheese.


It feels like something is trying to push you into a dark space. You don’t know how or why this is happening; you don’t question it. All you can focus on is the inevitability of it all. This is going to happen. And then you fall. At first, it’s just a lump in your throat or a pain in your chest. Then it’s an ocean of tears and sleepless nights. It feels like you’re screaming, but no-one can hear you, not even yourself. Something has completely taken over your mind; there is no escape. For me, the hardest part was trying to explain it. How can I explain something that I do not understand myself? The endless questions when you eventually have to come out of your room… “Why are you crying?” “What’s wrong with you?” always followed by uncertain and completely unsatisfying answers.

For the people around you it’s frustrating and unsettling. There is no calm after the storm. When you finally run out of tears you feel completely exhausted – emotionally and physically – with red eyes and a numb feeling beyond explanation. You get over it, but there is always fear of a relapse, of that darkness consuming you again. That’s the only way I can describe it really. I’ve learnt to accept that it’s a part of me. It’s dark and complicated but I always get through it. You have to learn to, because if you don’t, self-harm and suicide become options that should never be contemplated. 

It’s the blind hope that keeps you going. Because although it may be blind, it’s hope all the same. I’ve also learnt to distract myself. For example now, when it all got too much, I decided to write about how I felt instead of crying about it. So this is what it feels like, and believe it or not, when it’s all over I feel like the happiest person in the world. So for all those happy times, is it worth it? Absolutely.


Depression is a word thrown around a lot with very little meaning. If people are bored or having a bad day they claim to be depressed. But being depressed means a lot more than that, and it does not last only a few days, it lasts weeks, months – maybe even years. Depression comes upon you so fast, yet it is so hard to rid yourself of. It’s a constant feeling of emptiness and being broken. You just feel so alone and isolated. There are no time-outs. It stays and won’t go away; it’s like a curse. When you’re depressed you tend to push away the people who love you the most, simply because you just block everything and everyone out. It’s like you’re stuck in a dark world of your own that you have no control over. Sometimes when the depression gets extremely bad, you turn to self-harm because you think it’ll get rid of the pain, maybe even suicide because the pain you feel inside you is so unbearable. Minutes feel like days, days feel like weeks, and weeks feel like years. It feels like it’s never going to go away, but it does! 

Eventually it will go away. Eventually you won’t feel so empty and alone anymore. Things will get better, you just have to be strong and stick it out. It won’t be easy. Some days you’ll just want to give up, but don’t! Nothing lasts forever, not even depression.


Depression may be clichéd by many as an illness with the severest of outcomes but for me, it was my safe haven. I relished in the tears and sleepless nights which accompanied my diagnosis. The darkness became my reality, and reality became the unknown. Every day I would spends hours lost in my own numb world – one in which I seeped of bitterness, anger and regret. Some nights I felt I was drowning in the endless streams that flowed over my coarse cheeks. It became a physical pain to the point where I physically could not breathe. I remember pressing my shaking hands to my chest in a ferocious bid to end the suffering. And when it finally did end, I returned to my state of numbness, simply awaiting the next breakdown. No-one knew what I was going through, I don’t think even the counsellors understood. I tried to explain to close friends but their help came to nothing. I began to create conversations in my mind, in an ironic attempt to restore my sanity.

In my case, sleeping was not my biggest fear. It was the hours leading up to it that were the most distressing. Isolated and emotionally frustrated, I spent this time reliving the pain and torment, hence causing further destruction to my mind. Writing was my only outlet. It was never enough.

In the end I don’t quite know how I recovered. Perhaps time really does heal everything, but I don’t truly believe that. My depression has disintegrated over time but the ashes still lurk beside my bed, choking my lungs from time to time as I sleep at night. I don’t think it will ever fully leave my being, and in all honesty, I hope it never does.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

My Story as a Paramour of Paramore

As a topic and portion of my personality that I had always wished to discuss, I deemed tonight an appropriate night to write about my saviour. That of course would be music. But this post is not for every song that has ever helped me, no. It is for the one band I could always rely on to produce a song to match my every emotion; to calm the storm of distress that was continuously stirring within me. The band members – Hayley Williams, Jeremy Davis, Taylor York. The band – Paramore.

I was introduced to the music of Paramore towards the end of my first year in secondary school. At this point, Paramore had two albums released, ‘All We Know Is Falling’ and ‘Riot’. Not that this meant anything to me back then. They were just another band that the emo girls in my class listened to. That all changed drastically when I was obliged to open my narrow mind to the world of guitar riffs and heavy drums. All preconceived perceptions I had disintegrated on hearing the melodic, circus-like opening of “Misery Business” on the Riot album. I was dumbstruck. The strength and power of the voice of this woman was impermeable and captivating. I found myself needing to hear more. I bought Riot that night.

A few months later came the release of the first single from the album Brand New Eyes. The intro of “Ignorance” is one that gives me goose bumps to this day. Within hours I was a recluse, spending every waking hour with my newfound idols blaring through my being. Earphones became a permanent resident in my earlobes, maximising my ability to process each note that played so beautifully, over and over. There is no other way to describe it – I was hooked. I had to witness these lyrical masterpieces live. And so I bought tickets to their Brand New Eyes tour date in Dublin, on the 6th November 2010. I was ecstatic. That was until I found out the morning of the show that I would not be able to attend. I was at a soccer tournament that weekend and although we were staying a mere hour away from Dublin, my managers refused to allow me to leave. I was inconsolable. How could they be so heartless and ignorant to my childhood dreams of seeing my heroes?

I was in 3rd year of school at the time and had been going through a rather tough period, with bullying and isolation taking centre stage. In a bid to prevent any further anguish, my mom promised she would take me to Manchester a few weeks later to see them. MANCHESTER?! Did she really just say that? I continued to cry hysterically as I was unable to control so many emotions at the one time.

My poster. Why did I photograph one side?  I don't know.

Before I could say “For a Pessimist I’m Pretty Optimistic” I was at the front barrier of the MEN Arena, anticipating the arrival of Paramore. Throughout the show I sang, I screamed, I cried, I gave a poster to Hayley, I cried, I got mushed up against the barrier, and I cried. Did I mention I cried? It was the best night of my life. All the worries of my life at home were non-existent for the duration of the show. It’s truly amazing the impact one band can have on a person’s life and I don’t think they even realise it. But that’s just them – completely grounded and humble, and a great example of how far perseverance, hard work and a “spark” can get you.

Paramore have changed thousands upon thousands of peoples’ lives, including my own. At times when not even hope could prevail, Paramore pulled through and saved me. They are my inspiration, my heroes, and the reason I survived the ordeals I went through. Behind closed doors you are alone. No-one can help you but yourself. But I was never alone because the music of this band never failed to impact me. Whether their lyrics made me smile or cry is irrelevant; they always made me feel something, and that is so crucial in times of complete despair. I owe these people so much, perhaps even my life, and they may never know that. Would I still be here without their music? It’s debatable, but I wouldn’t ever take that chance.

In just over four months I will be attending my second Paramore gig, this time in Dublin. Not only that, I will be attending it with my girlfriend who has also been impacted greatly by the music and presence of Paramore in our lives. I have never anticipated September so much in my life.

If I ever got the opportunity to meet Taylor, Hayley or Jeremy I would use that time (provided I didn’t pass out) to let them know how thankful I am for producing such awe-inspiring songs and for staying strong during their toughest hours as a group.

Paramore is not just a name of a band to me anymore. It represents a group of people who have saved my sanity and changed my life completely. For that, I am ever grateful.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

To the First Years of '08

I can still remember the words of a teacher in my first year of secondary school – “Girls, the next five years are going to fly. Just ask the current Leaving Certs”. Wow, they really have. With that memory still fresh on my mind, it’s hard to look around this room knowing that in a few weeks the people I have grown up with will also be a memory. My nightmare of a year are the present Leaving Certs. Yes, we were a nightmare. From throwing shoes into the lake at Ross Castle to making student teachers cry, and even pouring boiling hot Pot Noodles over each other. Oh, the memories. Unfortunately my decision to part ways with these wonderful beings at the end of 3rd year has left a rigid wall between my year and I. In fact, I’m not even in the position to call them “my year” anymore, which is quite a punch in the chest I must admit. Nevertheless I am writing this for the majority of you whom I will at least miss walking past in the corridors.

Actually, it’s possibly more accurate to say that this is predominantly for those of you who have impacted my life in some way, shape or form. Seeing as I cannot name anyone directly, I will leave it up to you to decipher which paragraph is about whom, and so on. For the purpose of this post (and my own sadistic enjoyment) I will write paragraphs per person for those of you have impacted me the most, for good or for bad reasons. Let the guessing game begin.

Your laughter can brighten up anyone’s day, while deafening them at the same time. Your personality is like gold and your strength is beyond me. We grew apart for unfortunate reasons but I will always smile when I see photos of the good times we had.

Once upon a time you terrified me. In fact, you still make my bones tingle with fear on occasion. But I admire that about you, oddly enough. You do and say anything you please and people respect you for that. I respect you for that. We had a few run-ins and you were out of line. But that’s you – love or hate, all or nothing. Your attitude is hilarious, as is your humour. Your presence will be missed, now and again.

Our relationship, if you could even call it that, was one that was so strange I am yet to fathom how it actually came about. I did trust you, I genuinely did. You knew a hell of a lot about me, more than most of my closest friends at the time. I was horrible to you. I really am sorry for that. You didn’t deserve to endure the treatment I gave you. I’m glad you’ve been able to forgive me and I’m so glad you’ve become the person you are today.

Personally, I’ve dreaded writing this paragraph because to keep it to just a paragraph is impossible. I could write a whole book about us. You will, in my mind and heart, always be the one person that stands out of the crowd of blurred faces when I think back on my years in secondary school. Gone but never, ever forgotten.

We’ve always gotten along very well, haven’t we? There’s something about our humour that just clicks when we’re together. You’re one of the few people I still like and have respect for from my old group of friends. You’re going to do a brilliant Leaving, I’d put money on it. I think my fondness of you has been recognised so even when you’re long gone, a relationship with one of your kind will still remain.

You disgust me. You’re whole demeanour is revolting. You try too hard and for what? Status? Boys? Popularity? In my opinion you have none of those. And you’re not the easiest on the eyes either, God love you.

Can I just say, you’re amazing. Literally you are one of the nicest, most genuine people I know. I love your personality. I love spending time with you. I love that you are one of the few people that understand and can handle my sarcastic nature. I really believe you are a diamond in the rough and you don’t even know it. I’m going to miss you more than almost everyone else, please believe it. I love you.

I dislike you so much that I refuse to give you a full paragraph, though I most certainly could. You miserable bitch.

I have known you for so long that I have become immune to your annoyingness.  That’s a lie. Your personality can penetrate any material. Yes I just referenced your personality to a penis and a condom. But hey, that’s our relationship. Serious conversations don’t exist with you 97% of the time and when they do, you go all crazy-ass on me, which is quite an enjoyable experience. I love you and I hate you. I’ll miss you, perhaps.

You were never a friend. I disliked you from the moment I laid eyes on you. I never could have imagined the amount of anguish you would end up causing me, especially in such an indirect manner. I got my revenge. Very immature revenge but revenge nonetheless. You have always reminded me of a Warner Bros. character actually. I greatly anticipate your departure from my life.

You are one strange girl. I fear there is something about you that I have never understood, nor will I ever get the chance to try to understand again. At one time you were everything to me. Then you were nothing but a reminder of regrets. Now, finally, you are someone I can have a normal conversation with, without getting nervous or trying too hard. You are the foundation on which my writing has grown and for that I am ever grateful. I never imagined saying goodbye to you would have become this easy but I can only see it as a positive that it has. You deserve happiness and I hope that smile of yours continues to light up peoples’ lives just as it did to mine.

You have been the dark horse this year in terms of who I have grown close to. You never fail to make me laugh. The atmosphere your presence creates is one that no-one else could ever compete with. I am going to miss you very much but I know there’ll be no getting rid of you over summer. Something I look forward to very much.

Oh my days, where do I begin with you. The memories I have of us are insane. Who does that stuff in school?! It’s a pity we grew apart. When I think back on all the stupid shit I did as a teenager I’m sure the majority of them will involve you. You were a good friend at times. The distance between us has probably been for the best.

There’s no easy way of saying this so I might as well get straight to it. I hate you. When I see you my stomach turns and I have to look away. I treated you like one of the Royals and I am deeply ashamed of that. You deserved no apology that day. What you said to me I will never forget. I have forgiven you, yes, though I cease to understand why or how. I shan’t waste anymore ink on you.

So that’s it. Job done. Finito. I have little else to say about you all. In total honesty, I dislike a lot more of you than I have included but if I was to write a paragraph on each of you, I would be repeating myself. Thank you all for contributing unknowingly and unwillingly to the creation of this post. Five years has finally been worth something, eh?

Friday, 3 May 2013

We Are All a Wreck

The inspiration for this post was ignited quite some time ago. However, tiny sparks have been catching and holding my attention lately and I have been unsuccessful in brushing them aside. A movement, a conversation, an uneasy look – that’s all it took to provoke this writing session. Something that may be deemed small to others has become the nucleus of my thoughts these days.

We hear so often of people whose personalities are overshadowed by their brash egos and their audacious arrogance. We find them intolerable. Out of sight does not always mean out of mind for these painstakingly infectious louts. My knowledge of physics is not the most in-depth, but is there not some law along the lines of “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction”? Don’t quote me on that, it is based on unreliable Transition Year recollection. But couldn’t that law also be said about us humans? If there are people who are simply submerged in this impudence surely there are those who are equally as submerged in insecurity and self-consciousness. So when are these individuals ever the topic of discussion?

Unfortunately, many of us experience these feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth due to our own personal ordeals which we may not be comfortable discussing or sharing with others. I’m not suggesting all case of low self-esteem arise from a past experience; many people feel this way for a number of reasons, some of which may not be possible to explain. One thing I’m positive of is that each of us, no matter who we are, has been in situations where we have felt doubtful and unsure of ourselves. Not even Cristiano Ronaldo is perfect all the time. Most of the time, but not all of the time.

The effects that those personal insecurities have on us can be devastating and extremely degrading. The worst part, though, may be that the majority of people closest to you may not even be aware of your fragile state. Sadly, people with low self-regard are both vulnerable and isolated in the most drastic of ways. For example, they may feel reluctant to engage in conversation if there is even one dominant voice to be heard. Similarly, they may find it difficult or even impossible to express themselves in the manner in which they had hoped to if they feel they may not be accepted for who they are.

Confidence is vital, especially during teenage years. However, real confidence is a rarity for most. By ‘real’ I mean the kind of confidence where a person’s opinion would be easily disregarded, even if it was that of Mr Simon Cowell.

My own encounters with these feelings were never too severe, though my memory may possibly be jaded. Yes I have been in situations where I was lacking in confidence. Yes I have felt isolated beyond what I imagined possible. But these brief encounters have been, as the adjective suggested, brief. By that I mean none have ever lasted longer than two years, give or take a few months. This may seem like a long time, but it is nothing compared to those who have battled those demons for the entirety of their lives.

It is a never-ending struggle between what one knows and what one believes. A person knows their own strengths. They know their talents. They know better than anyone the potential they have to be successful in life, whatever that may incorporate. And therein lies the problem. Society has us all brainwashed into believing that only a certain type of person can be successful in life. Those that play the piano and aspire to be surgeons, they are the people that will succeed in life. What utter bullshit.

Now that may be easy for me to say, but what about those whose confidence may not be as disposable as mine. They have no reason to believe any form of praise or commendation they receive because in their eyes, they are never worthy of it. Is it really okay for these people to live their lives in the shadow of who they could have been? Of course it’s not. But is there even a way of combatting this issue? I believe so. I may not have the answers but at least I am aware that there is a problem and that there should be help available for those that need it.

Can I just put it out there, a meeting twice a year with the guidance counsellor in school is by no means sufficient personal support within an institution. Firstly, no-one wants to pour their heart out to someone one day and then have to discuss career options with that same person the next. That’s not right and students shouldn’t be expected to do that. In my opinion, it should be made compulsory for schools to employ a personal counsellor in addition to having a guidance counsellor. Young people, especially in today’s society, need that option available to them at all times. I was blessed in that the one year that I needed professional help my school had a full-time counsellor. That should not be a blessing, it should be a standard.

This post has taken over a month to put together. Not because of its contents or how deeply I thought about what to say, no. Simply because I found it so hard to write about something I hadn’t fully experienced myself. This is mostly based on my observations of the people around me. This was for the people whose voices are permanently on mute. So if you haven’t been affected by this and have read it with ease, be grateful. Others aren’t that lucky.