Squalling sea gulls wake me up. I hear the ocean breaking against the shore. It’s cold under the duvet but there is no hum of air conditioning. It takes a full minute for me to wake up, orient myself and remember where I am. I smile at the new sounds, snuggle deeper into the covers, and savor the thought that I’m not waking up in Abuja.
As I have written here before I was diagnosed with Grave’s disease in November 2009. After two years of orthodox treatment I went into remission but late last year I had a relapse. Stress, anxiety, or just good old empathy fatigue. Who knows? Does it matter? What does matter is that Nigeria is NOT the place I want to be while dealing with it.
Matter of fact Graves’s seems to be one of Nigeria’s gifts to me. I read Grave’s happens when the bodies flight or fight response switch breaks, usually from over stimulation. I know my Nigerian brethren understand. In Nigeria one is constantly in flight or fight mode, there is no down time. Don’t get me wrong, I love Naija but one needs to be fit, strong, healthy and rich to play in that jungle.
I found myself in Brighton, UK by some sort of fate. Its major attraction was it’s by the sea and its cold, especially at this time of the year. One of the more troublesome symptoms of Grave’s is heat intolerance. The night before I left Abuja they cut the power (as usual) I slept naked in front of the open front door. Ok, I didn’t sleep, that would have been insane.
I really do not want to spend the rest of my life popping pills, so the only other way I am going to dominate this grave condition is through lifestyle changes like exercise, diet and less stressful work. I’ve been ‘changing’ Nigeria and ‘saving’ Nigerian women since I left school. I’m almost 50 now; I’ve done my bit, I’m glad to leave it to the young ‘uns to carry on while I do something a bit less exciting.
My professional work continues under new management from younger, stronger, fresher leadership while I finally do what I always wanted to do – travel the world and tell awesome and inspiring stories. But first we heal the accumulated trauma of 40 years living and working in a dysfunctional, unforgiving society like Naija. What can I say? I’m not as strong as everyone wants me to be anymore.
Of course this means what I blog about will change. I started the 30 Day Yoga challenge at Bikram Yoga Brighton yesterday and I’ve been having a gastronomic adventure with lots of healthy fruits, vegetables and seafood. Brighton is by the sea in East Sussex and has loads of exciting things to do and see and is surrounded by quaint English villages with names like Dichling and Westmeston.
I will get to London at some point when I can and do the touristy things one does in London but for now I’m going to focus on healing body and soul right here beside the sea.
I will also continue to write and develop my flash fiction, flash memoir and the Agwubuo saga so please do stay tuned.
More soon good friends!