AFTER having depression for half of my life, I somehow forget how much of an impact it can have on a daily basis. But yesterday it made me not want to do something I really want in my life: travel.
I want to be clear that I’m not talking about that sad feeling you get after returning from vacation. I’m talking about depression you live with every day.
Later this week we leave for a weekend trip to a city about 100 miles away. Yesterday I suddenly had a meltdown convinced that we shouldn’t go. I know it makes no sense but if you have depression you understand that sometimes the “feelings” override all sense of reasoning.
After letting it all out to my husband, I felt much better. But why did this happen? Depression. I’ve never had severe depression but it’s enough that somedays I just want to cry and do nothing. Other days I lose my shit for no reason.
Recently I’ve made it a goal of mine to travel more but it can be difficult when your brain says you should stay home and binge-watch Parks and Rec. I may be the only person with depression that wants to trave but I doubt it. Considering the National Institue of Mental Health states 7% (17 million) Americans have (diagnosed) depression, many people live the struggle every day.
I want to share some tips that have helped me through the years when depression makes me feel like doing nothing.
I’ve found that my biggest struggle is getting out the door. Even if I’m going to meet friends I love hanging out with, there always seems to be a part of me that doesn’t want to go. This is a time I just have to force myself, tell my irrational thoughts that it will be fun and worthwhile. Once I’m away I tend to do alright.
#1 is if you are on medication make sure you have enough for the trip and that you continue taking it as before. The disruption of your schedule is NOT the time to also disrupt your chemical balance.
A major way of me coping with the thought of travel is planning. I love to plan. I guess it makes me feel more in control. I don’t plan every tiny detail but enough that I don’t feel like I’m flying blind. As mentioned in this post, I plan a lot but leave somethings to chance because that’s how my husband works. I know that everything may not go exactly to plan but having some idea of logistics makes me so much more at ease. This is the time when I reflect on what I want to see or do on this trip but realize it won’t be perfect. Nothing is perfect. And that’s ok. Not expecting perfection from the beginning helps me control my emotions.
My husband is of great support for me. Having someone there to listen and not judge. He usually doesn’t quite understand what’s going on but then again neither do I. Everyone needs someone to vent to and tell them that it will all be ok. Validation.
I’ve come to realize that short trips work better for me. I feel as though there’s less chance of things going wrong. We can travel at a slower pace and not feel as though every day is hectic. We’ve been on longer trips but for some reason, those seem more action-packed. We have more time so we believe we have to see and do more? I’m not sure. So short (5 days or less) work best for me.
Changes in routine seem to cause problems for many while traveling. Trying to stay on the same routine while away that you have at home can be of great help. Wake up at the same time, eat at the same times. Emotions seem to stay more stable when our routines don’t vary.
Most of our vacations involve hiking so the sunshine and fresh air help me. It eases my mind and invigorates my body. We don’t exercise as much as we used to but has it helped us tremendously to get through winter. We both currently work from home and this makes it VERY easy to be lazy. Exercise is helpful whether at home at away.
If you feel comfortable telling your travel mates about your depression and the problems it may cause while away, do so. Only tell as much as your comfortable telling. You don’t have to say that its depression, simply say you’ve been having some health issues and it may arise while traveling. Say that sometimes you may need some time alone (or whatever may help you). Letting others know beforehand can help prevent possible miscommunication problems later on.
Overruling my mind and just do it!
Unfortunately, sometimes I have to make myself do it. I know that when I look back in 10 years, I’m not going to have fond memories of sitting at home binge-watching Parks and Rec. But that trip to Chattanooga, I’ll remember. Even if it’s not the best vacation ever, memories will be made.
I know that depression, in general, can make life difficult and travel can make it worse. But find out where you struggle and your way of adjusting can be life-changing.
Depression doesn’t mean we can’t have fun, we may sometimes do things differently though. Realize you’re not alone in your struggles and that it is possible to still go out there and LIVE!
I hope my tips can be of help to you and make you know that it is possible to keep on enjoying life with depression.
Do you have any special ways you cope with the stresses of travel?
Let me know in the comments