Adventures & Interventions
I was a bit nervous before writing this, about opening ALL the way up in this post about my struggles… but it actually felt therapeutic and not scary at all to share once I was done. We should probably talk about mental health more. And just hug and high-five each other more. And travel more. Thanks for coming over to read!<3
After semi-successfully taking the kids on three planes for 24+ hours TWICE earlier this year, I definitely felt pretty brave and cocky and ready for anything.
We have been looking for our next destination for a while, Addi’s goals are all about seeing nature and mine are about diving into people and culture (and eating things). With that in mind, I was incredibly tempted when my friend from Uganda invited us to come stay with her in January. I spoke to people who have been there with and without kids, researched flights and vaccines (turns out you also need to take parasite medication so you don’t bring home worms in yer bellies, awesome) and was getting so pumped to have my traveling mind blown wide open.
My friend runs this amazing network of charity, all by herself, by making and selling African food here in Iceland and using the money for necessities, buildings and education in her area in Uganda. She stands in a stall at a market, more often than not in the freezing cold, to sell the food she has made. So far, over the years, this has funded her building a church, putting together a youth club for teenage boys to help them stay off the streets, opening up a pharmacy, building a preschool for children who are orphaned or come from troubled homes, and now her next step is to pay for the education of children and teenagers who will otherwise have no way to improve their situation. The salary for many people’s full day of hard work is painfully low, bordering on modern day slavery. The young girls are especially vulnerable to predatory men, taking advantage of their poverty in the worst way imaginable (which often ends in teen pregnancies and then the cycle continues).
I became so inspired by her work and I craved to help so much it physically hurt – so little from us goes such a long way over there! Finally a way to share the incredible abundance we have up here, whether we are constantly aware of it or not. I also talked to several people about charity work and Uganda specifically, to get a more complete picture in my mind and to make sure I wasn’t going to barge in there on an Icelandic pony with my white saviour complex and make everything “better”.
Students and teachers from her preschool. For many of the students, this is their only source of clothing and meals.
I was semi-manic with excitement, starting to plan this epic journey of sharing and experiencing…when my family stepped in and pretty much staged an intervention.
Here is why:
I haven’t talked much about this on the internet before for several reasons, but the truth is that the second year of my son’s life is somewhat of a blur to me.
This is what it looked like: My usually well-managed Fibromyalgia (chronic pain, chronic fatigue amongst other symptoms) flared up. I was trying to give my all and then some to two small children. I was working in the evenings. We had (still have!) plenty of work to do on our house – that we moved into with a five-week-old and a toddler. We DID NOT SLEEP at night for a year and a half. Add life’s usual bumpy roads. This combo created the toughest situation I have ever faced, and it’s not like this was my first rodeo.
I was in so much pain, often unable to hold my kids and so completely EXHAUSTED on every level. I have never experienced this level of absolute despair and hopelessness, all while being in a seemingly perfectly situation (great husband, great kids, great friends, great job, great house etc). I don’t think I’ll ever be fully able to describe the guilt that comes with having all that and not feeling like I’m able to enjoy it.
Every morning for about a year I woke up either crying or totally numb, completely unsure of how I was going to get through the day. I had suicidal thoughts, self harming episodes and sometimes bursts of white hot rage. Even though I have years of training in mindfulness, processing, self reflecting and was in therapy, the pressure of it all was just suffocating and I had a mental breakdown of sorts early in the spring.
Part of this was probably due to postpartum depression, but most of all I think the Fibro and the sleeplessness were what pushed me over the edge. It’s like some chemical was missing from my brain after all the lack of sleep, because soon after I reluctantly started taking meds that were right for me, I clicked back into my old personality and woke up thinking “let’s do this!” like I used to. Leó started going to daycare for 4 hours every morning and I remarkably quickly found my way back to my relative brand of sanity 🙂
After rather recently recovering from this, I can definitely feel that my body and brain are craving REST. Instead of being wired and having trouble sleeping I now constantly feel a little drowsy and can nap or fall asleep at almost any time, which is awesome, and definitely sends me a clear message of what I need.
Which brings me back to our travel plans, that my parents and husband respectfully told me to forget, and to please stop being crazy. A few short of months after finally feeling like life is good again is probably not the time to jump into the unknown on a massive heart opening/breaking mission, complete with several flights, vaccines for everyone and a ton of mental work and research.
Instead, pretty much for the first time in 14 years, I am going on a “normal” trip where we plan to swim in the ocean, hike, visit friends, check out animals and islands, speak some Spanish and just CHILL together. Get ready for us Canary Islands! (Get ready for us to do absolutely nothing, so no preparation needed, k thanks).
Yes, I’m a little scared that I’ll be bored to tears after week one with the apparent lack of adventure and randomness, but I’m telling myself we can find interesting people and situations anywhere in the world (and maybe less interesting is more helpful now anyway).
We’ll go to Uganda another time for sure, but in the meantime I’m finding ways to help from here. My friend and I are setting up a company around her (insanely delicious!) food so that she can distribute it to stores, and trying to get Icelandic companies to give away a few items needed for her preschool (such as colors, coloring books, toys small and light enough to take on a plane etc).
If this strikes a chord with you and you want to be able to help kids that really need it and know exactly what your help went towards, you can contact me!
And if you want to come hang out with us in Tenerife or one of the other islands, let me know!!! 🙂