It’s Friday today, which here in Maldives is the weekend (plus Saturday, back to work Sunday). I find that every single Friday (where I don’t have plans), I either sleep until noon, eat something and then sleep again most of the day, or I stay in bed all day watching entire series of TV shows one after the other after the other. My question is why? Why do I feel like shutting out the world even though I love what I do and where I live? Is it homesickness? Culture-shock? Just laziness? Hormones? Missing my boyfriend? Or just being a loser?
I’d wake up and as I open my eyes and remember the dream was just a dream, that I’m actually here in my apartment in Male’.. something inside me just makes me roll over again and sleep and sleep and sleep and before I know it, it ‘s dark outside. Then for sheer hunger I force myself up, go for a walk around, chat to a couple people and buy some groceries etc. When I return to the apartment I feel fine again, as I do in the week. I adore teaching English and with my classes I really feel like we’re making a difference, especially in teaching the little ones how to read.
So it’s not the fact that I’m not happy with what I’m doing here. It’s not that I don’t like living in Maldives either. I mean have you seen Maldives? It’s stunning. I feel extremely privileged to be here, especially since I don’t have a degree and I’m perhaps the youngest ex-pat here. I feel like my boss took a chance with me, and because of that (plus a love for teaching and being around children) I try to work vigorously with all my passion. It’s tiring but unarguably worth the rewards it reaps.
Therefore I love what I do and I love where I live. Why then, do I feel the need to shut the world out and feel so uncontrollably fatigued I can sleep the entire day?
Do I miss home? On the whole, no I don’t. Sure I miss having a gossip with my mum while she potters about, or sitting around the garden table with my god-mother when we were both full-time smokers- we could sit there for hours talking about absolutely everything. I miss watching the kids while they play, and I miss my friends. I miss the smell of home. And I miss the love. But do I want to pack up my life here and go back? Absolutely not! Sure the first few days would be nice. Then everyone gets back on with their lives and you’re left with the uncontrollable urge to get the hell out of the country again.
Am I culture-shocked? The first week maybe a little bit. But now, no. I respect the locals, their beliefs and values, I eat mostly local food, I’m accustomed to the heat, to Prayer Time, in how to cross the road. I’ve also learnt a much-needed skill for residing in Asia; patience. It took some time but I feel I belong here, that my presence is appreciated and every day I am learning something new.
One thing that could account for the extreme fatigue is my condition called Fibromyalgia, which among other things, causes widespread muscular pain for apparently no reason. However, back in England I was on the highest number of painkillers my body could be subjected to without overdosing. Here I don’t take any. The heat soothes most of the pain, which helps me to sleep better and more deeply, which helps in pain management, allowing me to wake up able to manoeuvre out of bed without any assistance. In England sometimes I couldn’t get up or down the stairs. I went to A&E twice because I thought the pain was going to knock me out. Here, no such thing.
I remember being diagnosed only about a week before my flight was due. I told him of my plans to leave the country and he told me it was the best thing I could do. The condition rests ultimately on one’s emotions. The pain is heightened when you’re miserable, and fades out when you’re happy. I am happy 6 days of the week but for some reason on this day of every week I feel lonely, maybe it’s homesickness but only for the company, not for my home country itself.
I’m wondering if any other travellers or ex-pats feel this way from time to time? I just can’t seem to pinpoint what it is exactly that’s wrong. It’s not just homesickness because as much as I miss the people I care about in England, I also miss my life in Vietnam and my 3-month fling with Italy. It’s not that I have the travel bug and wish to explore new lands (this is certain as I have 9 days off next week and could easily plan a trip to Sri Lanka or even India but have yet to organise anything). It’s not that I don’t have any friends here, because I do. But I must admit I need to make more of an effort with them. I’m sat up in bed eating cereal from the box, my apartment needs cleaning and I don’t have much food in. I just can’t be bothered. Much like how I felt when I lived in York, trying to get through a degree. No connection to the place. But here, that feeling only lasts for 1 day of the week– every Friday without fail. It doesn’t make any sense to me.