Dealing with stress

When people hear that we live in Pakistan they tend to take a deep breath and roll their eyes.

“That must be stressful” they often say.

They’re often right.  Everyday life in Pakistan, as in many other developing countries, features a pretty high level of stress.  More or less everything is more difficult than it is in the West.  Things that are done online in the West – paying bills, ordering groceries, changing car registrations – is done in person in Pakistan, which means a trip to the bank and a good half hour (minimum) of your time.  Then there’s the stress and expense of renewing visas (meaning that permission to stay in Pakistan is conditional on the whims of the government and can be withdrawn at any time), and the power cuts (sometimes for up to 20 hours), and the heat, and a permanent level of anxiety about security – especially since a group of foreign tourists were recently killed in the mountains north of here.

And then there’s the additional stress.  Recently, for example, we have faced:

– Our daughter being sent for a CT scan to check for suspected hydrocephalus (false alarm, thankfully).

– Our son catching a virus which gave him a high temperature, which meant that he couldn’t sleep and we had to stay awake fanning him with a piece of cardboard all night.

– My wife slipping on wet tiles and pulling several muscles, which incapacitated her for two days.

– Me sleeping awkwardly on my right arm which effectively paralysed it for a day.

– One 20hr power cut and another 15hr one, which meant no fans and no water to take showers as we couldn’t run the water pump, and…

– …temperatures topping 40 degrees Celsius.

I write this not in an attempt to gain any kind of kudos or respect for the things we have to put up with.  I write this because there may be people who are thinking of coming to Pakistan to work for an NGO and I’d like them to know in advance some of the things they might have to deal with…

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