Safety Stop – I lost my mind to find my soul

 

photo book Safety Stop
Safety Stop Book

 

The hook of the non-fiction memoir ´Safety Stop´

An adventurous true story about a young woman following her passions by working as a diving instructor all around the world but also surviving nightmares when she loses her both parents of cancer at quite a young age and tries to solve the mystery of how she got into psychosis in the Philippines and later in Peru.

Introduction of the true story behind the book

The story starts with losing my mum of cancer before I take off to become a scuba diving instructor. I work in places like Spain, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Maldives, New Zealand and Australia. But then, I, unfortunately, lose my dad of cancer too. I return to Australia after this and start an office job in Byron Bay. However, after almost a year, I miss the oceans and decide to return to the Philippines to work as a dive instructor again. Here, I experience very extreme psychosis. I never get around what really happened there, till the exact thing happens 4 years later in Peru.

 

Recovering in Makati Medical Center in Manila, Philippines
I asked for a coconut during my recovery from psychosis in a hospital, Makati Medical Center, in Manila, the Philippines in 2013

 

Topics in this true story, a non-fiction memoir

The book is a non-fiction memoir and at the same time a travel story with happiness, drama and tension, about 15 years out of my life. The true story features topics as travel, scuba diving, adventure, drama, spirituality, a bit of romance and mysteries. The story also contains funny bloopers, making dreams come true, values in life, following passions, and how I find my own way in a sometimes confusing world. Spiritual themes include the law of attraction, mysterious coincidences, and realizing why everything in life happens for a reason.

The theme of Safety Stop book

The real theme, however, is that I discover that everything has a reason and every crisis has the potential for a positive transformation. Sometimes, just like after a scuba dive, it´s a good idea to do a little stop and stand still in life to continue in a better way, after that. But also on a regular base in the form of meditation.

 

Safety Stop´s Outline (summary per chapter) 

 

Chapter 1, Peru in 2017 – psychosis

After I have taken a so-called ´Safety Stop´ in life, during my time on the Canary Islands, I decide to start travelling again and go to Peru. Things don´t go as planned, and after a few weeks, I experience an almost exact same psychosis as in the Philippines in 2013. I lose all my belongings, sleep on a bench in Lima and become missing in the Netherlands. I also nearly lose my life and I describe in detail my thoughts and what happens. Like in the Philippines, I am found back over Facebook and get rescued by my sister and her husband. I do figure out what caused the psychosis after this, but now I´ll first take you back to 2003 when my story really starts.

Chapter 2, the Netherlands in 2003 – losing my mother of cancer

I describe the sad and traumatic loss of my mum, holding her hand when she passes away. The loss of my mother, who is also my best friend, does change me in some way. After graduating in 2004, I soon leave my office job at a tour operator with diving holidays to become a scuba dive instructor. In this chapter, I also travel to Egypt to do my Advanced Open Water course and walk the 80 km walk, called ´the Kennedy Walk´, a yearly event in the Netherlands. I realize, as my mum told me, that I never walk alone. 

Chapter 3, Gran Canaria in 2006 – becoming a divemaster

I move to Gran Canaria at the age of 24 to do my Divemaster internship. The plan to become a scuba diving instructor seems more complicated than expected. But I don´t give up on it. Next to working as a divemaster, I start to work as a waitress in the restaurant next door in the evenings. I do my double jobs for almost a year and make my dreams come true. I gain self-confidence, save for my own dive equipment, improve my English and German, and learn to speak Spanish  Also I fall in love with a Cuban guy experiencing romantic times. 

 

doing my DMT divemaster internship on Gran Canaria
I´m trained to become a divemaster on Gran Canaria and start to live my dream

 

Chapter 4, Gran Canaria in 2007 – just having fun

After my double jobs in the previous year, I now find a job as a front office agent in a holiday resort and start to actually have fun on the island. I move in with a friend, have a good salary and a lot of free time, which I spend mainly on partying and enjoying my life. Although I miss something.

Chapter 5, the Dominican Republic in 2008 – finally a scuba dive instructor

 I move to the Dominican Republic to first work as a Divemaster and finally do my dive instructor course. I read some books like ´the Celestine Prophecy´ and ´the Secret´ and start to use visualization to overcome certain fears but also to see a whale during scuba diving! I start a relationship with a Dutch guy and when I decide to move on to Mexico, he decides to come with me.  

Chapter 6, Mexico (& Belize, Guatemala, Honduras) in 2009 – working as a scuba diving instructor

 Mexico is like a dream to me! I find a job easily and work freelance. This way I have a lot of free time too and I indulge myself in the Maya culture and the things to do here. Like snorkelling and scuba diving in the so-called ´cenotes´ (underwater cave system), visiting the ruins, and sometimes enjoying the nightlife in the evenings. Also, we go on a trip to Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras. I make many new friends here and have an amazing time. I start meditating but don´t come very far yet.

 

Chichen Itza in Tinúm, Yucatán, Mexico
Exploring the Maya culture. Temple or pyramid Chichen Itza in Yucatán, Mexico

 

Chapter 7, the Netherlands & Gran Canaria in 2009 – always struggling with making decisions

 Together with my boyfriend, I go back to the Netherlands. However, I am not very happy there when I work a while as a waitress.  I try to forget my ´unhappiness´ by partying a lot, but then I decide to break my relationship to go back to Gran Canaria. Here I also work as a waitress but I live a more quiet life and start reflecting a bit. When I decide I want to teach scuba diving again, all the things fall in a miraculous way, and very sudden, in place. Before I know I am on my way to the Maldives!

Chapter 8, the Maldives in 2010 – happy to teach scuba diving again

Here I work in the best scuba dive destination ever! I see sharks every day and am very happy again. I start to become very good friends with one of my colleagues who is a local Maldivian. We have very open talks about religions, the Maldives is 100% Islam, and I learn that it has the same roots as Christianity and Judaism.  I also continue my path in meditation. Next to my morning meditations, I start to enter ´the now´, when I do a Safety Stop of 3 minutes at the end of every dive. It´s like a retreat time as well when I live for 6 months on this small island. I start going to the gym every day, enjoying the Spa, reading many books, and share laughs and drinks with colleagues.

 

Manta Ray at manta cleaning station on Madlives
Working on the Maldives is as a dream to me

 

Chapter 9, Sri Lanka, the Netherlands, Hungary & Bali – back in my element of travelling

 After leaving the Maldives, I do a short holiday in Sri Lanka by myself. I start with a Buddism silence retreat where I run away from after one day, to travel the country instead. I visit the Netherlands and a friend in Hungary before I decide to go to New Zealand. However, due to the earthquake in Christchurch, my visa is delayed with a few months. I start waitressing again but not being patient enough to wait for my visa to be approved, I already hop on a flight into the right direction, where I stop in Bali to wait for my visa. In Bali, I meet a lot of people and even friends from the Caribean before coincidently.

 

Chapter 10, New Zealand (& Singapore) in 2011- losing myself by falling in love

 In my first week in New Zealand, I fall in love. So my plan, to ´work & travel´ the country before continuing to Australia, is instantly changed to stay and work in Auckland. My father gets cancer and I become even more confused about where to go and what to do. I decide to go back to the Netherland, but during my stop in Singapore I stay a few days with a friend a met in Bali. She advises me to meditate, but I change my flight and go to Gran Canaria.

 

roadtrip through New Zealand
exploring New Zealand by road tripping & camping both islands

 

Chapter 11, Netherlands & New Zealand in 2011- the second chance

After I work a couple of summer months as a waitress again in the Netherlands, I decide to give New Zealand, and my relationship there, a second chance. I start to work in a cafe, learn new ´barista skills´ and meet some lifelong friends. During the Christmas holiday, my boyfriend and I travel around the country including Southern Island. I am not happy in the relationship, become a drama queen by not being able to stay true to myself, and blame my boyfriend for it. My dad is doing much better now.

Chapter 12, Australia, Hamilton Island, in 2012 – living my dreams again

Finally, I live my dream again to go and teach scuba diving in Australia. After a short visit to Cairns, I decide to take a job offer on Hamilton Island in the Whitsunday. However, I can´t complete even 2 months here since my father is getting sicker again. Before I return to the Netherlands, my boyfriend from New Zealand comes to see me and we do a very quick road trip from Brisbane to Melbourne in less than a week.

 

Very happy to be in Australia
Travelling through Airlie Beach before I start my job on Hamilton Island, Whitsundays, Queensland, Australia

 

Chapter 13, the Netherlands in 2012 – losing my dad of cancer

 Like with my mum, I am holding my dad´s hand when he passes away. I spend the summer with my sister and her husband in the house of my dad, sorting out a lot of stuff and going through many youth memories. My boyfriend also is there with me for quite a while. I also visit Gran Canaria and go on a road trip to Denmark with a good friend.

Chapter 14, the Philippines in 2012 – scuba diving & travelling around

 For 6 weeks I go backpacking through the Philippines, visiting the best dive spots in the country. I meet a lot of people coincidently on the road, mainly ex-colleagues and ex-housemates from other places I have been working. At some point, it almost starts to scare me because it really happens like 7 times, on the street, on a boat, etc. But I do realize I am back in my old element and I love it! Also, I realize I was never myself in my relationship and I break up in a fight. Soon after that, a man spikes me with drugs when strange things start to happen, but because my friends from Australia show up coincidentally, I stay safe. We continue to travel together. 

 

Backpacking the Philippines
So happy to go scuba diving and travelling around the Philippines

 

Chapter 15, Australia, Byron Bay, in 2012 – living in the hippie area

Finally! I am back in Australia to live my dream I planned almost 2 years ago. First I travel around a bit before I settle down in Byron Bay. Here, a company is willing to sponsor me for a working visa so I can stay longer in the country. However, instead of a scuba diving job, it is an office job. Living in the hippie area, doing a job that I do not really enjoy in combination with feelings of guilt & despair in regards to my ex-boyfriend and my dad, I start to smoke a lot of marihuana. I do enjoy my time, make many new friends, and explore the area. However, deep down I have a lot of questions and I try to reconnect with meditation and the spiritual books but I am not coming very far. Suddenly, I quit my job, sell my car and bike, leave my room, quit smoking marihuana, and go back to the Philippines.

 Chapter 16, the Philippines in 2013 – the first psychosis

 After a ´stopover´ of 2 weeks in Bali, I continue my travels back to the Philippines where I plan to start working again as a scuba dive instructor. However, in my first week, after a very strange experience with people owning a massage salon on Siquoir Island, I become paranoia ending up in psychosis. I end up walking barefoot through the streets of Cebu city throwing all my stuff away before the police put me in a local mental hospital. I wake up binding on a bed with no mattress and in a place with very bad hygiene. Within a week my sister and her husband come to rescue me after they have started a search action over Facebook. I recover in a good hospital in Manilla before returning to the Netherlands.

 

By helicopter from Cebu to Manila, Philipines
They rescue me in the Philippines: by helicopter from Cebu to Manila

 

Chapter 17, Canary Islands 2014 – my Safety Stop in life

After a few weeks more of recovery in the Netherlands, I return back to the Canary Islands where I start to immerse myself in many books, mostly from Hay House. I stop working for a while, using money from my heritage to go deeper on the spiritual path. Especially Wayne Dyer´s books help me to change my perspective on many things in life. I also start a full-time study in Ayurveda Therapy and start new things like painting and writing. In 2015 I backpack all the other Canary Islands.

Chapter 18, Fuerteventura 2015 – between the surfers

For nearly 1,5 years I live on the island of Fuerteventura and find an evening job in Corralejo where I live & work in a surf hostel. I continue my spiritual search and in the daytime, I go to the library most days to write on my book. I keep meditating and discover Reiki and study ´A Course in Miracles´, profoundly. I also start to learn new things like skateboarding, salsa dancing, and much more.  However at the end of my stay here, I fall back in smoking marihuana, but then suddenly stop using it when I leave the island.

 

I learn skateboarding in Corralejo
I learn many new things, like longboarding on a skateboard, in Corralejo, Fuerteventura

Chapter 19, After Peru 2017 – alone on the road again…

 After Peru, and being recovered in the Netherlands, I return once again to the Canary Islands. I discover the cause of my psychosis. I take, once again, a Safety Stop in life and do the same job in the surf hostel for a couple of months. Then I am ready to travel again and to overcome my fear. Against the advice of some people, to travel alone again, I take off to Thailand and Malaysia. I travel for almost a year and go back to the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Singapore, and even the Philippines. I also visit the same mental hospital in Cebu and return back safe without experience any paranoia every again. But my book stops before I take off for the new travels, in the last chapter I mainly describe my lessons learned.

 

The tittle – Safety Stop

 

Safety Stop, the title of this book, is symbolic and realistic at the same time.

As a scuba diving instructor, I make many concrete ´safety stops´ after the thousands of scuba dives I do. As a recreational scuba diver, you always stop at the end of your dive for 3 minutes at 5 meters to release the nitrogen from your system, which was build up during your dive. When I´m working on the Maldives, I start to learn and practice meditation. In my safety stops, I start to use this time to become fully aware of the now, instead of just waiting for these boring minutes to pass by.

Later in my story, I take a ´safety stop´ in life. Up until now I never stood still in life; I always worked a lot, many times doing double jobs, in order to go to the next place. At some point, I realized that I was trying to find happiness outside of myself, either in a new job, place, or relationship, and I was never going to find it there. After many events happening in my life, I was stuck with many questions I could no longer run away from. I realized that my own life has pushed me to stand still for a short while to find the answers inside myself.

Geopark Gazette Beach, Langkawi Islad, Malaysia
After my psychosis in Peru, I decide to overcome my fear and go travelling alone again. Langkawi Island, Malaysia

 

Goals of writing my book

With this book, I hope to be able to inspire others and encourage everybody to follow their own passions. I feel motivated to bring Wayne Dyer´s teachings under the attention again, especially to my generation, since I believe it´s needed at this time. I hope to help by sharing my story of losing my parents and to realize that there is a positive transformation laying in every crisis. But also how we can make our dreams come true by believing in ourselves. I share how I become aware of the fact that something has always guided me in a certain direction. However, I disconnected myself many times from it when I became distracted through a romantic relationship or pleasures in the form of smoking marihuana or drinking alcohol in certain periods in my life. You might gain some insights for yourself or do nothing with it but just enjoy my story in which I take you travelling all over the world.

 

 Tip for Safety Stop Book

If you are curious to images belonging to this story, I have started to upload photos of all of the places I have visited during ´Safety Stop´ on my Instagram account, using the hashtag ´#safetystopbook´. It also includes beautiful pictures of our friends in the oceans!