Four years to the day of my accident I find myself saying goodbye to my boyfriend, sister, dad and step-mum in San Jose, Costa Rica. Alone with my backpack and off on my own 3 month adventure huge anxiety welled up inside me. I don’t recall being so anxious when I travelled alone last time – 17 years ago in Australia.
I decide to go for a walk to calm my nerves. San Jose isn’t great. It’s smelly, there are homeless people, men wolf whistle and make comments as I walk alone blatantly a tourist. I recall being very aware of my female vulnerability when I travelled around Australia; giving my mum detailed emails of my exact plans so she knew if I didn’t check in. However, post-head injury my new awareness of anxiety sensations makes it seem a greater conscious effort to manage my emotions. I wonder to myself – is this going to make it all too much to stay 3 months?
Why did I decide to travel 4 years post injury?
I am acceptably healthy & recovered enough to be classed as fully back to old Nid. I have managed to work full-time, do legal work, create my own successful start-up and be a self-employed teacher again. Juggling these all together in busy London objectively I am ‘better’. However, for 2 years I’ve been saying I am about 95% there and yet I can look back each year and say “How did I think I was so much better?”
A head injury changes your perception of self and the world around you. You cannot trust your perception as you never know how well your brain has healed, but doctors and everyone around you might tell you that you’re “normal”. But you don’t feel it.
In July 2016 a simple set back reminds me of how easy it is for my brain to forget the progress made and re-experience the trauma of my injury. This experience alone pushed a decision that I need to ‘fully heal’. I meditate on what to do to alleviate my distress – go travel; then I go for acupuncture and the doctor says “You must take a complete break to move past this reoccurring issue for you” – I am decided that I must travel to heal! Slowly the decision eeeks into reality & over some months I mention bits to others. It feels like the best decision I have made. Space to heal.
I share my experiences, adventures and lessons on the blog so watch out for posts!