One month ago, as you know, I went to Uganda to teach. I have been back for a couple of weeks now, but I hadn’t been in the mood to write about Tourette, because all the things I had seen and done first had to sink in a little.
First of all, it was amazing! It was very tough at times, but it was so, so good as well. I was so happy there, you can’t even imagine. Not that I’m not happy here, but I literally screamed (more than once) that I didn’t want to leave (luckily, I wasn’t the only one ). The group was amazing, and I really think we’ve achieved a lot.
Being there, I came across some things that related to my Tourette as well. I always joke about that I should’ve been born 50 years ago, so I wouldn’t have all those things like internet, TV and cell phones to distract me and make me tired. And in Uganda, it is like that.
I mean, all that stuff is there as well, but most of the time, you can’t use it because of the lack of reception! And it was SOOOO relaxed! It was quiet and peaceful, and I didn’t get tired that easily, and I didn’t get cranky that easily — it was so nice!!
Of course, there is a downside to it, because you can’t communicate that easily as we’re used to, but it was worth it! All the things that constantly annoy me and make me do stuff like checking my mail, it just wasn’t there! I almost didn’t have any compulsions or obsessive things I had to do, I loved it! Maybe we should all go live there!
Then the second thing was that I thought that I would have problems with not being able to be alone to collect my thoughts. I need that time when I’m in the Netherlands, otherwise I get very tired and there will be chaos in my head. I even explained to my group that they would probably see me walking away sometimes to be alone. But that happened only twice. And the rest of the time we were together 24/7.
Those two times were even explainable, one had to do with my obsessive thoughts (I explain later). The other was when I had a (small) panic attack because we just went to a place where Joseph Kony (if you’ve seen Kony2012, you know who that is) and his army of children had murdered more than 300 people in less than three hours. So that was just major and very hard to process. I wasn’t the only one who was completely shaken up about that.
So basically, I didn’t have the need to be alone in almost two weeks. I didn’t have to, we talked a lot about what we saw, with the group and I didn’t feel the need to process it on my own anymore.
The third thing was about my obsessive thoughts. I don’t just have thoughts that I dislike, I actually have obsessive thoughts that I like and want to have. When I fully let go of my brain, they come to me and I can dream and dream and dream. And I like it!
But after about five days in Uganda, I realized that I hadn’t ‘let go of my brain’ all that time! So I didn’t have the nice thoughts either (mostly because I didn’t have to, at home it’s once a day at least). And I missed them. And I literally laid down in the grass, by myself, and tried to get them back.
That was a strange thing, because I really didn’t need to ‘let go of my brain’, so there was no need to have those thoughts, but I really missed them! It’s nice, I guess, because that also means that I like the way my head works, sometimes I hate it, but still, I wouldn’t miss it if I didn’t like it!
In the end, the only thing that was different for me than for the other students was that the staff informed me on Saturday night about what we were going to do Sunday afternoon, instead of me hearing it on Sunday at lunch, like anybody else.
For the others it was a surprise, but I knew before what we would do. I thought it was very nice that they told me, and necessary as well, because I would’ve gone crazy if I just heard about it on Sunday as we went to the Joseph Kony mass grave.
Uganda was an amazing experience, and if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that I now know that I definitely can go for a longer time and I definitely will!!