“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta
I’m so excited to be writing this post! This is the beginning of my series on traveling with mental illnesses! Don’t worry, I’ll still be bringing you some non-travel related content. But, for the next little over a week, be prepared for lots of travel posts!
It’s 4 days until we leave for Florida. I’m counting the days and anxiously waiting. You can look forward to posts about:
- Preparing for traveling when you have anxiety
- Ideas to fight pre-vacation anxiety
- How to pack for vacation when you have a mental illness
- Flying when you have anxiety
- How anxiety affects traveling
- Updates on how we’re spending our vacation
I’m not gonna lie, mental illness can make traveling very difficult. Especially when you suffer from anxiety or depression. I mean, the fear of flying is totally normal for people who don’t normally have anxiety, so just imagine that fear in someone who does. It can be devastating. And if you’re in the middle of a Depressive Episode, just imagine doing something for days on end that society tells you you have to enjoy, but you just can’t find happiness in anything at all.
I’ve got a couple anxiety related stories to do with travel. I also have a couple depression stories for when returning from traveling.
1. Renting A Car
I don’t remember this very clearly. I guess I may have blocked it out of my head. I called my dad to ask to verify but he didn’t remember either. My mom’s phone was turned off so I couldn’t ask her.
Anyway, if I remember correctly, I was about 12 or 13 and in order to fly from Phoenix to Los Angeles you had to fly on a pretty tiny plane. I made it out there with some anxiety, but the thought of flying back on that plane scared the shit out of me. That whole trip was anxiety filled because we went to Disneyland and I was afraid of the majority of the rides. The Jungle Cruise gave me anxiety. Everything but the train around the park, The Haunted Mansion, and Autotopia gave me this incredible fear. I think one day my parents even had to put me in a wheel chair so I could try and relax.
But the thought of that small plane, I wasn’t going to do it. My anxiety was so bad that my dad had to rent a car in order to take us home. Yeah, that’s right, the plane tickets were already booked and we didn’t fly. I’ve been flying my whole life, since I was a baby. By this age I had already flown to Hawaii. There was no logical reasoning as to why I could not get on that plane. Anxiety can be a monster.
2. I got my wings
One time, I was so anxious before getting on the plane that the pilots had to talk to me before boarding. I was so scared. I don’t really remember much about this instance, but I remember how nice those pilots were. I will always love strangers who go out of their way to comfort someone, especially a child, with severe anxiety. They also gave me wings as I got on the plane.
3. I lost my house
A little backstory, when I was with my ex I made the stupidest decision ever, I bought a house with him. My grandparents paid the down payment, so the guy at the bank suggested that I put my name on the deed. Thinking this only gave me rights to the property. Only, it didn’t. It just made me financially responsible should my ex not be able to take care of it any longer.
So, when summer came his AC broke. In order to get it replaced I had to take my name off of the deed so it didn’t go against my credit. I just did not want to fucking deal with this shit. Eventually, I had had enough and I said screw it and booked a ticket out there. Honestly, I could have done the paperwork from Arizona, but I was pissed.
However, when I got back home I fell into a depression that cost me my education and any chance of having a job any time soon. I couldn’t leave the bed for a month and this depression is what caused me to start medication. At first, I thought it had to have been the fact that I gave up the house and I no longer had any reason to talk to my ex. It was officially over. But now that I think about it, while I’m sure that had something to do with it, it was the returning to reality that I couldn’t handle. I missed my friends out in Tennessee, they were the best friends I’d ever had and now I was so far away from them again. I missed life in a small town, where you know everyone. I didn’t want to face my reality of going to school with a bunch of fake people and being alone in my apartment. So, I stayed in bed binge watching Friends for a month.
2. My most recent trip
My most recent trip was to Florida to visit my grandparents. I spent 10 days hanging out with my cousin. I had such a great time. I was surrounded by people who truly loved and cared about me. When I got home, I was afraid to face reality again and found myself in another month or so long Depressive Episode. I hadn’t been keeping up with all my mental health studies and journals, I wasn’t tracking my depression on the trip. It hit me hard when I got home. I sat outside on my patio and chain-smoked all day every day. I couldn’t do anything but just sit there, I started drawing hands almost constantly. Eventually, I got a medication change and that helped. Plus, I started online dating and that got me out of the house. Although, all the rejection from that eventually added up.
Another problem I have with travel is that I’m just so damn excited I can’t contain myself! I’m so anxious to get to the airport and show such an important part of my life to my boyfriend who has never traveled anywhere. Dealing with this is tough, it takes a lot of patience which I’m not good at. Every day I’m watching the clock, “is this day over yet? Am I one more day closer to my trip?” I’ve been trying to keep myself busy, but it’s been hard. I’ll post more on this subject later.
What’s your biggest issue with traveling? Whether you have a mental illness or not, what brings you worry or fear? How do you deal with it? Let me know in the comments!