I’ve always been very passionate about not letting my mental illness stop me from doing the things I want to do and especially seeing the world, it’s basically what this blog is all about! But every now and again we need a reality check and that’s pretty much what has been happening these past few weeks.
Battling the lows
I have learned by now, that with all my highs, comes crushing lows. I’ve prepped and taught myself how to recognise when these pot holes in my mental state are on the way, but I can’t always swerve to avoid them. Then my tires blow out, one comes off the car completely and flies across the duel carriageway… ok I took the car metaphor too far, let’s get back on track.
My point is, these past 2 weeks I’ve been hurtling towards this low point and I knew it, but no matter what I did, I couldn’t avoid it. That’s the reality of depression, it’s not easy to treat and it’s even harder to manage.
I’ve been trying to get a job as I’m burning through my money and I’m starting to panic that my New Zealand adventure may have to come to an untimely end. The stress of trying to find a job, trying to find a place to live and manage my dwindling finances all got on top of me and I gave up fighting. Now I’m in the middle of this depression wave and I’m thousands of miles from home without all the creature comforts I usually have to get me through these moments.
Relearning how to deal with my mental health
There are a few things I used to do back home that I’ve carried over to the other side of the world with me. I’ve upped my meditation routine, I’ve started to really focus on my Wicca teachings and I even started running which I hate but it helps.
I’ve also learned a lot about the things I lean on that I didn’t even know I needed in these times. Things like my family home, my own space and especially material things. If I had a dollar for every time I thought:
If I buy this then I’ll feel better
I knew I could be materialistic, but I didn’t realise how closely it was linked to my mental state. I’m having to learn how to cope without all these things I would usually turn to and it has helped me realise my bad habits when it comes to self-care. That’s right people, you can have bad self-care habits whaaaat?!
The hardest thing by far is not having a permanent home or my own space. Sharing dorms with up to 7 people can be draining, especially if you’re an introvert like me. Not to mention, I’ve been having to use a towel as a make shift curtain on my bunk so I can read tarot cards and meditate, without room mates looking at me like I’m going to sacrifice them.
You can love every minute of travelling and still be depressed
As a society, we’ve come such a long way when it comes to how we see mental illness and how we treat it. However, we still have a long way to go.
It is perfectly possible to love every second of travelling and still have depression. Travelling with depression doesn’t mean you spend your days silently wandering around a country or sitting next to a stunning mountain range having an existential crisis.
Many people are surprised to find out I have depression and suffer with anxiety, simply because I smile and laugh a lot. I’ve had an absolutely amazing time in New Zealand so far, but that doesn’t mean I’ve left my health issues back in the UK.
This is something that came as a reality check, even for me. Although I’m sat here preaching to you about how depression doesn’t stop you from enjoying yourself, I was surprised when it caught up with me. I don’t know what I thought would happen when coming over to New Zealand, but because I’d been so busy having fun for over a month, as soon as it all stopped it came crashing down over me like a tsunami.
Understanding what it means to be travelling with depression
It’s not like I’m new to travelling solo, I’ve done a few trips in Europe on my own, but this is the first massive solo trip I’ve ever done. Not to mention, the first time I’ve ever been this far away from home AND alone.
I’m trying to learn as I go and figure out brand new ways that work for me when it comes to managing my mental health. I knew travelling with depression wasn’t going to be easy and to be honest, I’ve done better than I thought I would. Now I just need to figure out how to build a life in a new country and still keep my mental health a priority. It’s tricky, but I’m up for the challenge.