Living abroad – yes. Or no? No, it’s yes…

Photo credit:  Steve Parker

What would it take for you to pick up and move?

Welllll – really not much:  pack my suitcase & laptop,  preferably my guitar,  and off I go!!!

I’ve done it many times since I lived for a total of about 15 years abroad,  so I know the ins and outs of travelling light (meaning carrying my laptop,  guitar and hand luggage while losing my coat and/or scarf on the way to the plane :) ).

But that changed in the last 5 years… since my diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder I in 2007.

You have had it all your life,  done all this travelling,  so why can’t you just up and leave?

Welllll – yes,  I have had it all my life,  but I wasn’t a rapid cycler.

You Dutchies are always on your bike,  what’s the problem with being fast?!

Welllll – it’s got nothing to do with my bike,  that’s why!

It means that my episodes or mood swings can go up and down fast.  I can change moods during the day – although this doesn’t happen often – while in the past my moods could last for many months or even years.  *big sigh*

So,  how come you are a fast biker now?

Welllll – it usually happens after going through a crisis,  like a big one.  Which I did.  Unfortunately.

In 2005 it started to go down hill and during 2006 it got progressively worse.  I was seriously suicidal and didn’t know what to do with myself.  I was going up and down and experienced mixed moods for the first time in my life.  I had no idea about what the heck was going on in my life.  I only knew that I wanted the pain to stop.

I was diagnosed early 2007,  but still went through a manic phase after the diagnosis while taking mood stabilizers and other meds.  Not fun (huge understatement :(, do you hear the sarcasm?).

After I became more stabilised on the right med combo that worked for me,  it became very clear I had become a rapid cycler.

Officially you are a rapid cycler if you have more than 4 episodes a year.  Well,  I can have 4 different moods a week!  I am not ultra-rapid cycling – that is even worse,  changing moods all day,  every day.  Sort of.  Yikes!

Meaning fast bikers don’t get anywhere?

Welllll – heck yes!!!  Of course I can travel.  This winter I made a beautiful trip to Ukraine.  I will travel again this Summer with the youth group.

But there is a difference in travelling for a month or so and living abroad while taking care of your Bipolar.  By yourself.  No support network.  With meds,  of course.  I checked,  my current meds are available in Ukraine,  if I would end up there again.  But…

  1. I’ll need a doctor to prescribe my meds.  Or take huge amounts over the border.  Don’t know if that works,  provided I would get a half a year supply from the pharmacy here…
  2. I’ll need blood checks on my liver every three months.  I need to find a lab with lab technicians that do blood work that I can trust.  And let’s not forget:  use clean needles and such.  Don’t want to add HIV onto my plate of health challenges,  now would I?
  3. When I happen to end up in crisis – I definitely do not want to be in a psych ward in Ukraine!
  4. Even though my insurance has covered repatriation in the past,  it is not very likely they will in the future.  That is what this type of diagnosis can do for you.
  5. Building a support network will not be easy.  It’s not impossible (me thinks) – but it will take a lot of work.
  6. I’ll need to monitor myself very strictly,  since I will be most likely more or less my own doc.  That’s a bit tricky,  however good I am at recognizing my symptoms and such.
  7. Welllll -  can’t think of more, but gotta have an uneven number,  so this is the seventh.  Six is enough anyways,  don’t you think?

Okay – so you will only make short trips then?

Welllll – who said that?!  Of course not!  I want to live and work abroad,  don’t you get it?

Uhm… not sure I do.

Welllll – that’s your problem then,  ain’t it?

Mama’s Losin’ It

8 Comments

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8 responses to “Living abroad – yes. Or no? No, it’s yes…

  1. It looks like we do share a common bond! Living abroad was one of the best things we did, although it is nice to be back where we come from. I would love it if we could switch back and forth every 5 or 6 years but not really fair for our kids.
    Dealing with medical issues overseas can be a nightmare. I have a few stories about that subject! The care in Switzerland was wonderful…it was just the language barrier and cultural differences that got in the way. I understand your hesitation to start that all over again in another country.
    Sorry so long! :) Thanks for stopping by my blog….it’s fun to meet someone new.
    PS Went to Holland for Easter one year. Tovili Gardens (sp?) were beautiful!

  2. Christi! Welcome to my blog! Love comments, however long :)
    I am glad to know you are looking back as something good. I have the opinion that especially students, inbetween highschool and college should go abroad just to experience another culture and broaden their horizon. It will change them in many ways, just like it did me.
    I can sure relate to the language and culture barriers :) It sure gives a lot of stories to share, lol.
    Ukraine is a third world country and medical care is a huge problem. Unless you can find a clinic that is set up with help from abroad – then it’s a lot better.
    Shame I didn’t know you went you came over to Holland last year would have been fun to meet up :) I do live in a beautiful country – esp flowers. I missed them very much abroad…
    Ok I’ll stop. getting way too long! Oh, one question: did you keep ablog from your years abroad? Would love to read!

  3. Thought I’d drop by and read your take on Mama Kat’s prompt. :) It sounds like you have a solid handle on what you need to make living abroad work for you and I hope you are able to turn it into reality soon. Good luck!

  4. Coreen, welcome to my blog and thank you for dropping by! Hope your and my dreams will come true sooner, rather than later ;)

  5. Living abroad is an unparalleled experience for me as well. I spent a semester studying in Italy and also some time living in Japan. I treasure that time.

    Your concerns are understandable though. It’s hard enough finding doctors you can trust without having to deal with an entirely different system of health care you are not entirely familiar with. The insurance issue definitely complicates things too.

    I am glad you will still have the opportunity to travel. The perspective you’ve gained from your previous experiences living abroad should allow you to get more out of even those short trips.

  6. Rachael, isn’t it awesome to get a taste of a couple of different cultures? It enriches us and gives us unique experiences and we get to know oneself so much better away from the familiar.
    You are right – an experienced traveller is able to get much out of a short trip. I did when I went to Ukraine over the winter holidays.
    I’ll be going again this Summer – with our youth group (of which I am one of the leaders). I am so excited for them and for me! We’ll work with street kids and do practical stuff. They really come back changed, can’t wait to go!
    Glad to know another wanderer :)
    And also that your friends are safe in Japan – unthinkable what they are going thru…

  7. Fenny, My Dear little girl is an ultra rapid cycler, mixed manic now despite mood stabilizer. I do sooooo hope that she will be granted stability and grace over the next few years. I am afraid for her, for all of us. It would be wonderful if she could be able to experience travelling to places around the world. She certainly has the interest already as she loves to look at her father’s pictures he took while in Europe 20 years ago.

    • Oh Melody – that she must suffer already so young from one of the worst there is in BD land – my heart breaks for you, her and your family….
      Know that my prayers are with you! And that you are awesome in loving your girl. At least she is not in want of support and that is friggin’ awesome!
      Thanks so much for signing up to my blog – that makes me *grin* like a stupid cow :)
      Here is too prayin’ for stability so your and her dreams come true!!! (((hugs)))

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