The Therapy of Talking

One of the main reasons I started my blog was to start speaking about myself. I knew I needed to start externalizing who I am and how I feel.

Prior, I felt unauthentic. I felt like no one truly knew who I was. I still feel that way, but writing about my depression, my anxiety and my travels has helped me start along the path to expression and connecting with people.

When I don’t talk about my depression and anxiety, I feel like I’m hiding. I’m acting. I’m alone and isolated. But this last year is the first time I’ve talked freely about how I feel with people besides my best friends.

Amazing things have happened since – not necessarily extravagant, but small and important.

One of my bosses at the hostel calls me “Sad Girl” in reference to my blog. He always combines it with a mundane verb. For example, he’ll happen upon me cleaning, he’ll laugh and say, “Sad Girl cleans toilets.” It makes me laugh and makes me feel known. He might not know the specifics of my depression, but the fact that he jokes about it makes me feel lighter, even when I am actually sad and he’s mocking my sadness. It makes me feel accepted and hopeful that I can live among generally happy people and still feel sad without feeling like I’m too different.

Other cool things that have happened:

I wrote an article for the Inlander about traveling in spite of having depression and anxiety. I received loads of messages from people thanking me for writing the article because it encouraged them.

I did some busking in the Killarney town center and actually made money from it. There is something incredibly affirming about strumming an instrument and singing (something I find quite vulnerable) on a street corner and having people approve enough to throw you euros and give you a big smile.

I got my first tattoo.

I talk to strangers about my feelings and my past. And they share their own similar experience and struggle. We connect and help each other, if only briefly. Sometimes they are humans I wish I could keep, but the nature of travel is those 40 minutes might be the only time I see that person my whole life and I have to learn to appreciate that gift without expecting more.

I’m socializing. That’s a big deal for me. Since being in Ireland, I’ve gone out to pubs more nights in one month than I have the combined years of my life.

I begin the day and end the day with talking to people. And I hardly get jittery about it anymore. And the amount I second-guess and heavily edit everything I say has lessened. That’s an existence I’ve never known before.

My Spot

This is my favorite place at the Black Sheep Hostel, especially when it’s raining. Inside the polytunnel, the earthy scent of the soil and organic vegetables gives me energy and the heavy humidity lays over me like a comfy blanket.

Keep Walking


It has taken me a while to figure this out: Long-distance walking is incredibly good for my mind. As long as I’m walking through nature with minimal people around, my mind doesn’t worry. Doing it in high doses is quite effective. My mind is calm, positive and creative and I like the feeling of accomplishment after walking far.

Today was 24 km (15 miles) on the Kerry Way from Killarney to Kenmare. Stunning hills. And it just so happened to be the hottest day of the year in Ireland, a whopping 30 degrees Celsius. Yes, that’s hot for Ireland.

Something

Have you ever been to a place that feels like magic?

There is something about it out of the ordinary, but not so out of the ordinary that you recognize it right away. You have to take some time to breathe in the air of the place. It looks ordinary enough with trees and grass and flowers and water, but they’re different somehow. Maybe it’s the colors or the particular type of light, but not quite.

Something of the place gives you something. You feel it. The place is special, perhaps sacred. It’s good.

Theres no point in trying to describe it further. There’s no point in trying to put my finger on it. It’s not a thing that’s tangible.

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I found it here: Innisfallen Abbey. A monastery and place of learning founded in the 7th century on an island in Lough Leane. Don’t look for the something in the picture. It’s not there. You have to be there.

Meditate

I know I should meditate. My doctor and my therapist have recommend it, as well as articles and friends. But I struggle to start the habit.

It’s hard to feel productive or like I’m improving by simply sitting there. I know it’s not about instant gratification, but it’s easy to lose hope in something so subtle.

Recently, I met with Jenny, a meditation teacher here in Killarney. She talked with me about meditation and walked me through a session. It was all helpful, but it’s difficult to meditate with sadness.

Amid instructions to focus on my breath and my crown chakra, she told me to recall happy moments in my life. My mind went blank. She told me to feel them, but not get involved in the story. I couldn’t think of any story. For some reason all of my memories are colored with sadness. If she would have asked me to recall sad moments, most likely my whole life would go before my eyes. 

This concerns me. Because I don’t understand why I don’t believe I have felt happy moments. I know I have. I just can’t recall any. 

She told me to feel the love my family and friends have for me and I have for them. I can’t. I can’t feel it. It’s as if what she is asking of me is not part of my vocabulary.

Jenny said love and peace are the most powerful energies. I have never thought of peace as an energy. She said courage is extremely important. She said it’s important to practice being present. When you aren’t present, sometimes you notice – if only for a split second – that you’re not present. Then you become present. The goal is to make those moments last longer and longer because that’s where happiness is. 

I liked learning about presentness and mindfulness in the Glendalough hermitage. I am reminded of a quote I read there that is now one of my favorites:

“You can wash the dishes in order to have clean dishes or you can wash the dishes in order to wash the dishes.”

The Green and the Grey

Today I hiked up Ireland’s highest peak: Carrauntoohil! It was magical. And not only because it was the first hike I’ve done in Ireland where it has not rained. (But of course it was cloudy.)

After hiking into Hag’s Glen for a while you rock scramble up Devil’s Ladder – that vertical rocky, watery part on the left. Then you hike up the ridge to the right.


Everything that wasn’t a rock was squishy and wet, so wearing my Chacos was perfect. A couple people asked me, “My goodness, how are you doing this in sandles?” My answer, “These aren’t sandals, these are Chacos.” Actually, that sounds kind of rude when it’s not written down, so I just showed them the thick sole and said it’s all good.

This is the peak from the ridge above the ladder.


This is the ladder and the peak from the hike down the opposite side.


This is the view from the ridge.


No view from the summit because the summit was socked in.


The summit cross!

Previously, on other outdoor Killarney adventures…

Muckross Abbey: A beautiful 15th century Abbey that you can wander around in.


My favorite part is the yew tree growing in the cloister.


Gap of Dunloe: Me and Carol from Switzerland, the other workaway at the hostel, took a boat across the Killarney lakes to walk the 7-mile gap of Dunloe. Unfortunately, it poured rain during the entire 1-hour boat ride, so unlike in this picture, we were hiding under a green tarp and shielding our eyes from the windy rain. I’m sure the lakes are beautiful, but I can’t say for sure because all I could see was water in my eyes.


Sheep friends.


Mysterious brown water.


In Ireland, everything under foot is always green and everything up above is always grey.