Malaysia :: My first ”meltdown”

“Travel far enough, you meet yourself”
– Cloud Atlas

Turns out Malaysia was the country for me. The country where my first massive slump happened. I don’t really want to call it a meltdown because to me that implies a dramatic reaction. Like yelling or throwing stuff, at least there should be some crying involved… I had none of that, but I noticed something was seriously off a couple of days after landing in Kuala Lumpur.

It started quite innocently with sleeping in for a few days in a row. Nothing too special, I am travelling a lot, seeing a lot, there is so much input it’s hard to digest everything. Then there’s the logistics of all this travelling. Finding out where to go next, how to get there, find out where you’re staying, how to get from drop off point to where you’re staying and then: what to see and do once you’re there. Because, no matter what people tell you, some planning is involved here. You can just wing it (if you don’t need visas and such), but that gets pretty tiring too, believe me.

Like I said I landed in KL, got the express train into the city and found my hostel. No problem, this city even has uber, it’s golden. First thing on the list was Petronas, but after I had gone to see them and checked another item off my list, I was kinda lost. I met Logan for a day and hung out which was awesome and then I was sort of back to not knowing what my life was about again. Getting on the hop on hop off bus to see some of the landmarks was a savior for a day, but again, I was back to nothing.

The next day I stayed in bed because I just didn’t want to do it. I couldn’t bring myself to bother getting out of bed. I didn’t want to do anything, so I didn’t. And while that may seem like a good vacation for many people, when it lasts for two weeks something is wrong.

I started sleeping in more and more and by the end of the week I found myself getting up at 4pm, staying up all night doing nothing (watching series) and then going to bed at 7am to sleep the whole day… I decided to take charge and told myself babysteps was probably the way. I told myself that I would get up early the next day and see that movie I wanted in the cinema. It’s about 5 min walk away from where I stay and it was my only point on the itinerary for the next day. So, get to the cinema, watch the movie, go home. The next day I stayed in bed because I just didn’t want to do it. I couldn’t bring myself to bother getting out of bed. I didn’t want to do anything so I didn’t. And while that may seem like a good vacation for many people, when it lasts for two weeks something is wrong.

I had to move out of my hostel because I was doing the housesitting gig in Mont Kiara so I ubered up there and spent a day with the family. After they left I spent 12 days with Ewok the cat, who gave me some unconditional love and company. I think this was good for me, even if all I did for those 12 days was go to the store and back again to cuddle the cat.

I think it was good for me because after the housesitting I managed a bit more, I managed to get to my new hostel and I walked around a little bit every day. I booked a trip to Singapore and for some reason when I got there I was actually enthusiastic about seeing the sights. I walked around the whole two days, it was amazing. I felt almost back to my old self again, hungry to see what was there and experience new things. I even went for dinner in Chinatown…

I don’t know what was the tipping point for me or why it all came to a grinding halt in KL, I am fairly sure it started in Nepal because I started feeling low on energy, listless and joyless already there… I suspect it is a combination of several factors.

  1. I hate being weak. It adds to my frustration every day. And writing this post was hard…
  2. The constant logistics – nothing is routine for me anymore, and while this is a good thing in most ways, it does put a weight on my shoulders that wasn’t there before and I don’t think I’ve fully understood this until now.
  3. With the exception of Maja’s absolutely wonderful visit that weekend in Budapest, I haven’t been face to face with any of my “day to day” friends, the people who have known me for years, since I left Norway. I have met so many awesome people, and some of them I keep in regular contact with (you know who you are <3), but there is something about the conversations you have with people you’ve hung out with for years. These relationships are different and they give you something different and important. Something I also don’t think I’ve realized until now.
  4. There’s an increase in loneliness. I pride myself on being able to handle anything on my own and most of the time I can. I feel there is a definite difference between being alone and being lonely, but I think the loneliness of this trip is accumulating in a way. I am feeling it more now than I was before.
  5. Guilt builds up because I’m on a permanent vacation and I should be the happiest I have ever been all the time. No really, I should. How privileged am I for being able to do this? I know I will have nothing of material worth when I get back home, but I never make the mistake of thinking I am not privileged, because I am. I should be damn enthusiastic all the time, it feels wrong that I am not.
  6. Lack of direction. I don’t actually think this point is a cause of the slump so much as it is felt BECAUSE of the slump. I’m starting to think my life as no meaning or direction and while seeing so much of the world is fun, what is it all really about? At my worst my answer to that was “nothing”. I was glad to experience this point diminishing a bit in Singapore and feeling I was once again able to enjoy seeing and experiencing something new, but like the quote says”travel far enough, you meet yourself”… maybe I’m just not infatuated with what I see. Maybe after all this travelling all I find is that nothing is ever really that important and you never really find any meaning other than what you make yourself. But when you make it yourself it’s still just made up… Like made up solutions to made up problems in an endless circle…

So yeah… after this cheerful start to the new year I am ready to try to rock on… Or at least I suspect I will be. My whole mind didn’t shut down at the prospect of ordering a bus ticket to Penang today so there’s improvement.

I’ll be fine.

5 thoughts on “Malaysia :: My first ”meltdown”

  1. Stefanie What says:

    This is a great post, and I thank you for sharing it with us. It’s important to see how long-term travel affects each of us in so many ways, including the “guilt” of “I have x, so I should be constantly happy, always”. I wish you well in your upcoming travels!

    • Bakoyma says:

      Thank you so much, Stefanie. It actually makes me feel a lot better to get some positive and caring feedback on this. I wish you well too, in whatever upcoming adventures you may have in store.

  2. Charlotte says:

    Sharing from the soul, wifey.
    Its a long road you’re on, and even though fun and exiciting, its no wonder to feel a bit lost and will-less at times. Take your time, and babystep a bit, and know you are still in our minds and hearts at home.

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