The world of medicine simply baffles me. You can get a new heart, lungs and kidneys sewn into you and you can even have parts of your body replaced in the space of a few hours yet no one in the world has come up with a tonic for homesickness yet!
Travel sickness, motion sickness or sickness from a simple bug can all be dealt with so come on Mr. or Mrs. Hotshot doctor….sort this out.
If I remember correctly my first bout of this sickness, which tends to come in waves usually on a Monday, was in the second week after arriving here. My wife and I had just spent over an hour getting our children to sleep on their raggedy old mattresses I had scooped out of the garage and we were sat in an empty house, on a mattress eating something that was not wholly nutritious and that had just pinged to notify us that it was ready.
I looked around and uttered the words ‘What have we done?’ under my breath as I visualised myself back in Surrey with my feet up, kids asleep and something deliciously freshly prepared by Mikaela in a steaming bowl ready to eat. Just on that note, visualising things like this most definitely does not cure the sickness. It makes it a hundred times worse.
For those that have never suffered from the illness before I feel that I should let you know how it feels so that you can maybe relate to the disease.
It’s exactly the same feeling you get in the pit of your stomach on Sunday night before going back to school on a Monday or your first day back at work after a two week holiday in the sun (sometimes known as ‘Holiday Blues’).
The illness over time seems to be occurring less and less for me as I try to keep as busy as possible and remind myself of the reasons that we came here in the first place. We were simply not happy enough in the U.K. and that is why we decided to move. We decided to grab this gift they call life by the proverbials and never let go of it again.
In hindsight and also with a word of advice for others, we should probably have made note of all the reasons we were going to attempt this move so when reading the list back again we could take comfort from our decision and ease those butterflies flapping around in our stomachs.
Strangely it is Mikaela that is suffering from bouts of homesickness more than I. We are in her family home and as mentioned before, the reasons for coming to South Africa changed vastly in a very short space of time.
The friendships that Mikaela forged in the U.K. were extremely strong. Her and all of her closest friends made huge efforts to stay in contact and more importantly offer support when they needed one another. I think for Mikaela that she isn’t missing the place; she is very much missing the people. People sickness? Does that exist? I don’t like the sound of it that’s for sure.
On reflection I think I am very much the same. I have some fantastic friends back in the U.K. Some have been more like brothers to me over the years so popping out to see them for beers after work or to watch rugby with at Twickenham is something I do miss a lot. I genuinely don’t think I would want to swap where I live now with where we lived in Surrey right now though so it’s definitely the people that I miss.
I absolutely adore this house and I fell in love with it the first time I walked in the door in 2009. It’s not just the house though it’s the community as well. They are simply stunning and as I am writing this my head is still a bit fuzzy from the Red wine last night with all of them. We never had that in England and we always tried to make the effort with our neighbours but sadly to no avail.
I guess that leaving friends behind in the way that we did is a form of grief as you won’t be seeing them for extremely long periods of time but as the old cliché always goes: ‘Time is a healer’ and day by day you manage those emotions better and better even if they don’t fully disappear.
I miss my Mum and my brother desperately which in a way, on the face of it, I should be used to by now as going seven weeks without seeing one another was the norm anyway. It must be the distance that mentally challenges you. I can’t jump in a car to see them should I need to now for instance.
One thing that does help the sickness though is modern technology. For all of its faults and for some of the bad that it has created in the world, being able to video call people anywhere at any time is manna from heaven. You’re never actually that far away from people. You can’t touch them but with a video call you can definitely feel them. The calls help greatly with homesickness and I hope our friends and family enjoy them as much as we do.
For anyone who is considering a move like this and worried about homesickness then please don’t be. It’s not pleasant at times and the self-doubt can now and again be quite debilitating but with determination and time it slowly ebbs away. It will never fully disappear and in a weird way that’s quite comforting because missing someone or somewhere will just make it that much more sweeter when you see them or there again.
Our homesickness is slowly but surely ebbing away as the week’s tick by but in between the bouts of sickness we have already created some fantastic memories. The house is already a home and the kids have finally settled into their school and routine. They are thriving in this environment.
The work front is starting to take shape and I have decided to go it alone and start a project that I have always wanted to do but never had the guts to. I’m extremely excited about it and obviously nervous but I’m passionate about the subject matter and I know I will enjoy it even if it doesn’t turn out to be as profitable as I hope.
We are simply embracing the opportunities that are in front of us and I fear that if we don’t then this sickness would only get a whole lot worse.