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June Converse

Thriving After Trauma - Author and Writing Coach

Reclaiming A Piece of Me: Heading to Scotland

Most of you know that I had a mental breakdown in April 2012. Since then I have this BEFORE June and AFTER June. Much of who I was before is gone. A simple example is my handwriting. BEFORE June wrote neatly. I could write in a straight line on plain paper. I could write upside down as fast and legible as right-side up. AFTER June’s handwriting is so bad, I cannot read it. And I’m not exaggerating.

Another aspect of BEFORE June was independence. While I have always leaned on my husband for some things, AFTER June became “dependent”. Anything that might have a tinge of conflict went to him. Anything that might possibly be overwhelming, he’d take over. I barely even know how to turn on TV because it requires more than one button. God help us all if cable or Internet is out.

BEFORE June would not think twice about going on a trip alone. AFTER June cannot imagine even making a hotel reservation!

There are aspects of BEFORE June that I don’t want to reclaim. But I do want to get on a plane and see the world with confidence and excitement instead of uncertainty and anxiety. So ….

I will be going to SCOTLAND ALL BY MYSELF. Just writing that gives me the eebie-jeebies – good ones and bad ones. I’ll fly from Atlanta to Amsterdam to Glasgow – that’s easy. Then I have to learn the train system in Glasgow so I can get to Inverness. I have to get to my room (which I booked all by myself), find food, find my way around, get to Edinburgh, find a new room, find more food. Then, I have to get myself over to Dublin. Whew! Heart pounding thrills!

I’m not sure who is more nervous – me or my husband. When I get freaked, I call him and he steps in. Well, he won’t be able to step in from across the ocean. I may still call him freaking out, he’ll be powerless to save me, and that will freak him out.

I will have to use all the skills I learned in rehab. I’m pre-thinking so that I’m ready for most anything:


Be prepared. I have all my ducks in a row. My itinerary is printed. I’ve communicated with the innkeepers and confirmed my room so there will be no surprises.

Take care of my body. When I get hungry, I get HANGRY. So, I’ve already packed a box of protein bars and some crackers. Not the healthiest choice, but better than hangry. While I plan to taste the flavors of Scotland, I will also be sensitive to choosing foods that nourish and not just indulge. (And, no haggis for me.)

Stay hydrated. For some people, hydration is not as important as it is for me. I’ll buy a large bottle of water as soon as I get past security at the airport. I’ll keep it filled at all times.

Be sure my phone will work BEFORE I go. Same with credit cards. Take some cash (US and Euro) just in case.

Talk with my doctor about how to find sleep on the trip over. Exhaustion and hunger are my two worst enemies!

Take my Zentangle stuff. Usually a book is enough to take my mind somewhere else, but doodling can add to that calm.

Pack carefully – find the balance between too much and not enough. I won’t have Dave to be my porter so I need to be able to manhandle everything.

Have ibuprofen in my carry-on! And a blanket – I hate to be cold and those airline blankets are worthless!

Don’t drink alcohol on the plane.


Check that my phone works immediately so I can get it fixed if necessary before my meandering starts.

Keep protein bars easy to reach.

Ask innkeepers where it’s safe to go and listen. Use Uber, public transportation, or local taxis. Get up early rather than stay out late.

Keep a book with me at all times. When I have a book, if I’m stuck waiting or getting impatient or feeling overwhelmed, I can disappear into a story and find peace until I’m able to calm and think. (audio, ebook AND hard copy)

Don’t over plan the days! Again, I have to prevent exhaustion. I cannot see it all. I’ll just plan a second or third or fourth trip.

Sink into the accents. When stressed, I can close my eyes and just listen. It won’t matter what’s being said - the voice will be enough.

Remember that anything “bad” that happens is happening IN SCOTLAND! And, seriously, it’ll be great fodder for this blog!

ASK FOR HELP. People everywhere are nice.

And, when all else fails, remind myself that there is a CHANCE I’ll see Jamie from Outlander. I don’t want him to see me in a meltdown.


No matter what happens, find reasons to celebrate and reflect on anything that went awry.

Create the scrapbook, focusing on how proud I am of myself – I can even be proud of the issues I have! After all, I WILL HAVE VISITED SCOTLAND – by myself!!

I can do this. I know I can.

I will do this. I know I will.


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June Converse with purple hair
Choosing to rebuild a life after a breakdown has been a challenge. I became an author and a blogger who openly shares...


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