Finally the new post is finished! I had two ‘challenging’ weeks which is why it took a while. I ate something wrong, had two flights in seven days and on top of that also had a couple of bad days/moments. But luckily that is all in the past now.
I finally feel like myself again.
The surety of a bad day
One upside of those bad days, is that I again really appreciate the good days. Not only that, I also feel more grateful. Grateful for where I am and the things I can do.
Before my travels, I was a bit anxious about those bad days. As you can be sure that you’ll experience a bad day eventually. A day in which your brain simply has had enough. A day when speaking, thinking and walking suddenly becomes increasingly more difficult.
But, how would that go? Would I have to lay in a dorm for the whole day? Would I be able to make sure I had enough to eat and drink? Would I be able to communicate my needs to others?
The moment of truth
The last week in Sri Lanka was the moment of truth. This was of course really confronting and difficult, but I made it through.
This gives me a sense of confidence. I now know that I can let everything go when needed. That I can listen to my body and wait for a better day to come.
I also discovered the benefits of being honest and open.
Honesty and openness don’t prevent a bad day from happening. But I feel that they’ve helped avoiding more bad days from happening.
Open and honest
While I’m travelling, I’m really open about my brain injury. In conversations with other travellers, but also on my social media accounts. Which is why most people know of my disability early on. And I have to say that it feels really liberating to be this open.
I do think that it’s easier to be this open while you’re travelling. As nobody knows you, you don’t know anybody and after a while you each go your separate ways again.
At home I’m less open. As I don’t want to give future employers a reason for not inviting me for a job interview. This fear is a determining factor in how open I am at home.
Travelling changes this. And that makes it also a lot more easier to admit when something is wrong, when I need to rest or when I’m having a bad day. An added bonus is that sometimes others are quicker to realize that I need rest and help me to pay attention to myself.
Next you have to be able to be honest to yourself and to do what feels right. To not think for others (‘what will others think of me’) and to resist the temptation of going on a social outing when that doesn’t feel right.
Learning how to deal
Being open and honest made it easier, but didn’t prevent the bad days. So what do you do when you’re not home and you can’t go to bed?
Eventually I came to these five steps by trail and error. Seeing as I’m a huge fan of lists (they make my life so much more manageable) I hereby present my five steps for getting through bad days on the road (whatever road that may be):
Five steps for bad days on the road
1. Admit that you’re having a bad day.
Ignoring how you feel will only make things worse. There comes a time when you have to be honest to yourself and admit that you’re having a bad day.
2. Listen to a song that makes you cry.
I’ve noticed that I need the release of crying to face my feelings of sadness and frustration. For me listening to a sad song is the best way to start crying.
3. Find something that makes you smile.
Crying doesn’t change anything. So when I feel like I’ve faced all my feelings, I’d like to find something positive again. To find a smile, I’ll listen to a funny podcast, look up funny memes on Pinterest or watch a gag reel of my favorite series/movies on YouTube.
4 Allow your brain some peace.
At the end you’re brain just needs rest. So when you can’t go to bed, find something that relaxes you. Listen to relaxing music with your eyes closed or go to a park, for example.
5 Repeat until you feel better again.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a magical solution. I repeated these steps for a week until I finally felt like I had some space in my mind again. Until I got excited again about seeing and experiencing new things.
Was it easy? No, but now that I’ve lived through it I know I can do so again. I can wait for that good day to come along. And in the meantime I just have to cry in the train (people will sure look at you then ;)), find things that make me smile and find those quiet places.