While I was waiting for my first overnight bus in the US, I noticed the warning signals of a bad day. And it wasn’t long before I discovered that this wasn’t an ideal situation. I was in an unfamiliar place, had to keep paying attention and couldn’t go to a quiet place.
To help myself get through, I decided to just write down how I felt.
Which is why this isn’t the most uplifting post. But well, it helps me to write things away. And who knows, maybe you’ll recognise yourself or maybe it’ll provide a bit more insight in life with a brain injury.
It started off good
The past days I’ve travelled through the breathtaking nature in Yosemite and around Lake Tahoe. I was feeling on top of the world. The views were amazing, I went to the oldest saloon in California and met a lot of new people. So I had a stretch of good days!
Still, I know that eventually a bad day will come along. Those good days (the highs with nice views, yup Yosemite imagery) will alternate with the bad days (the lows, the dark valleys you have to go through to reach the next high).
I know that I have to really enjoy the good days, as there will come a day when I have to go through that valley again. And then it’s a matter of holding on. Of waiting for the next high, for things to get better again.
The signs of a bad day
As I’m writing this, I feel that I’m descending into a valley. Right that might sound a bit too dramatic. Let me rephrase, I feel my body’s warning signals. My brain has had enough and I need to rest.
The good thing is that I actually notice the signs. I feel myself getting more emotional. I can start crying about everything and anything (not ideal if your sitting in a well-lighted bus terminal). My mind starts to feel fuzzy, making it more and more difficult to stay focused or to change my thinking. And my double vision returns.
In combination with the stress of travel and being in unfamiliar surroundings, I feel my reserves burning up fast.
It doesn’t take long for everything to become even more challenging. The paying attention, communicating and finding distractions.
Being in unfamiliar surroundings certainly doesn’t help. All I want to do is to cry and sleep, but that simply isn’t an option for the next two hours.
Holding on and learning a lesson
In two hours the bus will arrive. I can’t focus on my book, my mind keeps going to all kind of worst case scenarios and I have to keep reminding myself to slow down my breathing.
I feel small and alone. So yes, it’s clearly a crappy night.
One thing is for sure, I won’t be doing this again any time soon. I’ll put the travelling by night bus on hold again. Combining too many new things isn’t the way.
A new mode of transport, having to transfer to a different location in an unfamiliar city and hearing bad experiences of others, is way too stressful.
I know that I just need some rest, or better yet, sleep. And that I won’t be feeling any better until I’ve rested. I can distract myself somewhat in the meantime, but that’s only a temperate solution. My brain just needs rest and only then will I begin to feel a bit better.
But well, what if you have to wait for a bus for two more hours?
A matter of holding on
This time my approach is to listen to uptempo music (or I’ll definitely cry), eating chocolate and reminding myself that this too will pass. That it’s just a matter holding on.
To help of pass those two hours, I focus on a song. I focus not on the melody, but on the base, drum or piano. And every song is another chance. When the music becomes too much, I focus on my breathing. I count my inhalations from one to ten. And when I notice that I get distracted, I start again with one.
This makes those two hours a lot more manageable.
I hope that I can sleep for a bit once I get on the bus and hopefully will feel a little better tomorrow.
If you’re having a crappy day, I hope it helps to know that your not alone. That things will eventually get better. That it’s just a matter of holding on and waiting for things to get better.
I’ll count to ten once more and hope that I’ll feel a little better tomorrow.