How I Survive My Disaster Days

I’m sure you are familiar with the story, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. We’ve all had our fair share of disaster days. Fresh beginnings are packed full of them. Navigating new experiences are destined to be awkward and unpredictable.


I just transferred to UK and so much of this transition has felt like one very long, very bad day. Sometimes I have to laugh about it to keep from crying and other days I just let myself cry and know eventually it will be funny.


This morning I woke up at 7:35a.m. I took my Ambien last night and managed to get a full five and a half hours of shut eye. I pop out of bed and greet my fiancé sitting on the couch. He works third shift so he stays downstairs quietly so I can sleep in as late as my body lets me.


I sit down next to him and hear about his night at work. I drink a glass of water and take my “go-go” pill.. my vyvanse, which helps me focus. I decide to start printing out my upcoming assignments so I can be prepared if I have extra time to do some homework between classes.


I print it all out and check my phone again. It’s already 9:30. My class starts in 30 minutes and I have no idea where the building even is. (Keep in mind that It’s my first week on campus.. that’s an important part of this story.)


I rush to my car knowing I’m already lost. The transportation office didn’t decide if I get ADA approved parking yet. It only my third day and I am lucky to be working with a temporary pass from the DRC as is. I find a spot as one person pulls out of the lot next to the Multidisciplinary Science Building. I swoop in, knowing it is surely the only available parking spot for blocks.


“Today’s my day,” I repeat my mantra in my head. I lock my car, gather all of my items including a 30lb backpack full of “just in case,” supplies. I realize i forgot my laptop bag for the third day in a row. Oh well, I printed out all my assignments for the next two weeks anyways. My ocd brain is on fire.


My eyes peer at my phone where my thumb is in hyperdrive, alternating between the fifth draft of my schedule and a map of campus. I am horrible with directions to begin with, so don’t get me started on the construction obliterating all paths of least resistance. I start to cross the street. Almost immediately I hear a “chhh,” sound below me. One velcro strap on my knee brace has come undone.


Come on Madison you have 8-minutes, I look at the time. I’Il have to fix it on the sidewalk. I take another slep and my brace slides to the ground. The flashing pedestrian sign gives me 5 seconds to get my life together... and I don’t quite make it. As the light turns green cars weave past me and there I am... stuck in the middle of the intersection. One car honks at me and I feel two tears run down my face. Wait a minute, I remind myself, today is my day!


I finish refastening my leg brace and take off as soon as the traffic is past. I filter through other trudging students and feel grateful I don’t recognize anyone. I don't care if they saw that, they don’t know me anyways. I finally find my building and limp to the elevator. My best friend has saved me a seat in the second row. She smiles at me and I drop another two full tears. “I’m good I’m great.” We laugh. I take notes while my teacher talks about dogs and their learning habits. My handwriting looks good. I even use a new pen. For those 50 minutes, it is my day again.


When we’re dismissed I walk to the library to study before my next class. I re-read my notes from our assigned reading and quietly eat some cookies my fiancé packed with my lunch. I cry two tears again when I realize I forgot my headphones. Before I can wipe them away I see an incoming call from another one of my best friends. I FaceTime her instead and we joke about how I always get overly emotional around my period. We’re synced so she knows it’s about my time. I update her on my hilarious morning. We decide it would make a good sitcom episode.


I refocus for the remaining break then head to my final class of the day. I love the energy in the room so much I choose to talk twice during discussion. Suddenly I feel an abdominal pain I know too well. Aunt Flo has arrived. As someone with PMDD, I obsessively track my period. I knew this was coming and inserted an emergency tampon this morning. It’s two days later than my typical cycle would be, but these mood swings alerted me in time. I sit uncomfortably for the last 5-minutes of class, afraid I’ve bled through my tampon.


I slowly gather my items so I can be the last to leave, just in case I’ve got the red mark of death on the back of my pants. I check my seat for any evidence. We’re in the clear. I head to the closest bathroom and hang my backpack on the back of the stall. I unzip my bag and grab the pouch that holds my coveted diva cup. I wait until the other person in the bathroom washes their hands and leaves. I squat over the toilet seat and in a two armed circus act (and evidence of a true miracle), I pop my tampon out and replace it with a diva cup. I complete this feat in a swift harmonious motion. It’s in place on the first try. I’m shocked, pleasantly though. I know that with a miracle like this it must be my day again and I leave the stall ready to wash my hands and reclaim it.


If any of you are also struggling with navigating a new campus, maybe with or without construction and a knee brace and you might have forgotten your laptop and headphones, you don’t have the right parking pass yet, ate cookies for breakfast while you cried, and your period is two days late but showed up in class and you use a diva cup-- OR if your day is just a typical day, remind yourself that it is yours! Even when it’s not going your way it would make an awesome sitcom episode, laugh-track and all.