This is a mock disease write up that I put together for a medical student who was about to travel abroad.   It captures some of the challenges of transitions that many of us nomads experience.  



Also known as Happy and Sad Syndrome (HASS)

written in jest (but only partly) by Katharine Norton


Transitionitis/HASS is a very common ailment affecting hundreds of travellers each year.  It is caused by the change in routine brought on by transition, and  anxieties (often  underlying) relating to the unknowns of the new location and losses associated with leaving the current location.



Symptoms include

-wildly turbulent emotions

-unexplained tearfulness

-inability to sleep due to thoughts running away

-exhaustion and increased need to sleep

-upset tummy, either diarrhoea or constipation

-loss of appetite

-comfort eating

-mushy brain, inability to think straight.

-unexplained, unusual aches and pains due to emotional tension stored in the body


in children

-regression in behavioural progress


-increased naughtiness



The only known cure for Transitionitis/HASS is to stay put forever, or to actually make the transition planned.



understanding that your symptoms relate to Transitionitis/HASS helps to bring peace of mind

-aim for a balance between travel related preparations vs fun, distracting activities to take your mind off things.

-avoid unnecessary new experiences during transition times – stick with the known, familiar and loved, eg foods, restaurants, films, books, activities, particularly when you are planning distractions.

-Money can’t buy you happiness – but it can help.  Don’t be afraid to use God’s gift of money to pay for something to ease your situation, eg a meal out, a taxi, buying something you would usually make.

-Keep an eye on the basics, eg 5-a-day fruit and veg, drink enough water, get exercise and sleep– it’s all to easy to let these slip when your routine is out of kilter.

-In case of lack of sleep, bring whatever helps you nod off, eg lavender oil, a boring recorded story, familiar gentle music.




-Note your symptoms to understand your unique profile of Transitionitis/HASS.  (Note that people around you will deal with transition in different ways from you – thats ok, let them!  But if you are transitioning together, you will need to work out how to do that together.)

-Adopt routines that help manage your symptoms.  Eg, if you observe that you never sleep the night before a journey, make sure you get lots of sleep the nights leading up to it.  Or, if you know you tend to comfort eat, take extra care to buy and eat fruit and veg that you’ll enjoy.

-Write lists of things that tend to be the same for every trip, eg things you always pack, things you always do in preparation for leaving.  This reduces unnecessary brain effort at a time when perhaps you are not thinking so clearly.



Mark 5:35-41 Jesus calms the storm – Jesus is Lord of stormy situations.

Psalm 46:10 Be still and know that I am God Take time out of the storm to be still with God.

Lamentations 3:22-23 – God’s mercies are new every morning.  Make it a conscious practice to lift your eyes from the storm to look out for God’s daily mercies

Mark 12:31 Love your neighbour as you love yourself. Be as kind to yourself as you would be to your neighbour if they were going through this.  We often forget this as Christians.  But how can we love our neighbour well if do not also love ourself?!




-Understanding that the unusual behaviour and emotions stems from Transitionitis/HASS helps to bring peace of mind

-Be ready with lots and lots of grace, understanding, love, encouragements, hugs and tissues.

-Encourage a balance between necessary tasks associated with the journey, and fun, distracting times for rest and refreshment.

-Relieve the sufferer of unnecessary decision making, eg whats for dinner, where to go out to for times of distraction etc.  They have too much on their mind to make these decisions.

-However, if the sufferer feels that the transition is outside of their control, they may appreciate the chance to control some decisions, eg what’s for dinner (This especially applies to children who probably didn’t choose the transition).

-Try to provide as familiar a routine as possible – this is not the time for the new and exciting.

-If the sufferer is very close to you, remember that you too may also be suffering from Transitionitis/HASS, in which case, re-read this information sheet applying it to yourself.



-Laughter is the best medicine:  google Michael McIntyre on Youtube

-Chocolate is known for its medicinal qualities –

-Find a smart phone app to help you write all those packing lists, eg



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