I recently spent several weeks solo-backpacking the beautiful South American country of Costa Rica.
This was my very first time out of the U.S., with the exception of the Bahamas. I turned 46 while on this amazing journey, I have raised my kids, I am a single woman, and I am hungry for adventure. I am a bit of a gypsy-nomad. 😉
But I have also “suffered” from Bi-Polar disorder most of my life. I put that word in quotes because I don’t technically consider it suffering anymore. There was once a time when I did, for sure. But I have learned many things over the years, and one of them is how to manage my emotions. I have worked very hard to try and keep an “even keel”, and not fall victim to the extreme high’s and low’s that accompany this mental condition.
What did this look like for an extended international trip, where one is in a country that does not speak one’s native tongue?? It was QUITE interesting. And it really did come into play in the dynamics of traversing the landscape and the culture.
Some days, I was feeling UP. I would feel like I could take on the world. As a “for instance”, on one of my UP days, I happened to be staying at a hostel with people from Germany, France, and of course the Costa Rican “Tico” hosts. I was feeling so “spry”, I actually went downstairs to the common area kitchen to see what was up for coffee that morning. We were all in there at the same time. On a “down” day, if I had peaked in, or listened in, I would have ran for the hills!! (For those of you that don’t know, social anxiety is a BIG part of the down-side of the bi-polar two-sided coin.)
I felt pretty confident and friendly that day, and we all had a very fun time trying to communicate between so many language barriers. And later that same day, I even accepted the invitation of the hostel manager’s brother to allow him to be my personal guide to the nearby waterfalls in Montezuma. (Something I would NEVER even consider on a LOW day.) I had a blast!
But THEN the suffering came…. lol. I expended so much energy that day, that–no matter how much I didn’t want it to happen– I crashed the next day. And stayed down the next… and the next. I spent the next three days isolated in my little room, only coming out to use the common bathroom, and even then I would “sneak” over there when I figured out to the best of my abilities that no one else was “out there”…. Yikes! What a silly mess I am!
The sweet lady who ran the hostel… when I finally DID emerge… thought maybe I had left! I told her, “No… I’m just enjoying some quiet time just for ME.” 😉
That’s how the majority of the 6-week trip went down there for me. Some UP day, mixed in with a lot more LOW days… but that’s ok. I really do like to just be alone. I enjoy walking, and just observing life happening all around me. I don’t have a need to join in, I never feel lonely, and I don’t feel the need to do a lot of activities. I’m more of the…. PENSIVE type, shall we say… 😉
Well, I hope this has helped someone somewhere. If you suffer from Bi-Polar and/or Social Anxiety, I hope you know that you are not alone. And I hope you know that life doesn’t have to be all suffering. Acceptance of your disorder… no resistance… and working WITH it instead of against it, can all be very helpful.
I love you. I really do. XOXO