Monday, September 28, 2009

My First Mental Meltdown

They warned us it would happen around September-October. As I stared at the pavement on some mountain highway, in the rain, trying everything in my might to quiet my rolling stomach and stop the world from spinning, I knew that my first Korean meltdown was coming. Not just a moody spell or an irritation period, but an all-out get-me-the-hell-out-of-here breakdown.

Let's back up, shall we? It was Sunday. I have been fighting a bad cold since Thursday and it seemed worse today. Today we were going to some place I'd never heard of to celebrate a birthday for someone who I didn't even think really existed. Things went downhill from the beginning. We weren't driving there in the family car. Instead, Oh-nee the boys and I were going to carpool with an Aunt. Well, this Aunt had a 5-seat SUV and two kids (12-year old boy and a 3-year-old girl). Do the math. 4 of us + 3 of them. So, with my head pounding and my face feeling like it was going to explode, we crammed five people in the back seat. Thank god I got the window.

The car trip was an hour through windy mountain highways. It seemed like this Aunt had not yet discovered the break, because she took the turns as fast as the straightaways. The kids were happy to be reunited with their cousins. From a foreigner's perspective, it seemed like everyone was shouting over everyone else in this little-big SUV. A half-hour into the ride, I knew I had discovered a new circle of hell.

After an hour of wishing I was deaf, dumb and blind, my stomach revolted. Thank goodness the gesture for "pull-over-I'm-going-to-be-sick" is universal. I was able to hang onto my cookies, but my knees were weak and the world was just spinning. That's when it happened. Oh-nee, in all of her sweetness, crouched next to me and innocently asked, "Do you not feel well?"

Cue Meltdown.

What do you mean, "Do you not feel well!?" I haven't felt well in days! Unlike my other moments of weakness in Korea, I voiced this one. "No!" I wailed.

Oh-nee said, "Oh, where does it hurt."

"Everywhere!" I screeched. And suddenly (and to my utter amazement) I began to list every single body part I knew in Korean (even my foot). I had no idea where I learned so many. And, the cherry on top: when I ran out of Korean body parts, I flung out a string of hysterical curses (in English). Thank goodness no one I was with actually understood anything that I said, and hopefully the Korean government never will. What I actually said on that mountain is between God and me.

When every imaginable poisonous word left my body, I suddenly felt empty; like someone pressed the reset button. I stood for a few minutes out in the rain, gathering my composure. I couldn't help but notice how beautiful the mountains were despite the rain and my mood. My inner Julie Benes whispered in my head, "You done now? Because that was just childish."

Yes, I was done. Oh-nee was on the phone with someone about getting me medicine, I'm pretty sure I scared the aunt half to death and the boys were completely lost in their Nintendo's to care. Isn't it funny? How you yell and kick and scream to make yourself feel better, but really, you only end up defeating yourself?

So that's the story of my meltdown. I really do want to post a positive post about the weekend activities, but I just can't justify adding it after that rant. Look for a separate post about the family party, because it in itself is one hysterical adventure.


  1. My meltdown would have come a lot sooner. Hang in there little girl. Nothing worse than being away from home and sick. Wish I could be there. Love ya, Mom

  2. Oh Amy, everybody takes sick days... Take a sick day off (or a few) from everything including the family activities, now and then. Hope you are feeling better. Take care.