Lifestyle, mental health, travel

Packing When You Have A Mental Illness Part 1

We leave for our Flordia trip in the morning tomorrow and I couldn’t be more excited! But, packing now that I have a mental illness in need of attention has changed my packing a little bit. While this post includes that, it’s also a great post for anyone who doesn’t have a mental illness. 

Packing can be stressful, I know I almost had a panic attack yesterday. I’m used to packing the night before a trip but, as with any relationship things change. And my routine was changed and I was totally forced to start packing yesterday! Oh, the horror! But seriously, that little change upset my anxiety so much because now I’m half packed and it’s driving me crazy! Hence why this post is split into two parts. 

Packing With A Mental Illness (Or Just In General)


1. The Checked Bag (Suitcase)

  • Clothes

Obviously, you need clothes. But, how much is too much? I ran into a problem yesterday. Suddenly my wardrobe titled, “I have nothing to wear” turned into, “I have too many clothes!” It was crazy, I always feel like I have nothing to wear but, as soon as I started going through what I wanted to bring my pile was huge! My little fur baby loved it, though!

Here’s what I suggest bringing:

  • Pack clothes you will feel confident in
  • Pack 3 extra shirts, if you’re anything like me, there will be coffee stains
  • 1 pair of extra pants. I’m bringing white pants, definitely need a back-up for those
  • 1 extra dress or nice shirt, you never know
  • A few extra intimates (boxers, for the guys)
  • Don’t forget socks, just don’t
  • Pack a sweater, I’m bringing one on the plane but, I have an extra for a little shoulder coverage, I am going to visit my grandparents after all
  • 2 swimsuits, always always pack a swimsuit, again, you never know
  • 3 pairs of shoes, two in the suitcase one you wear at the airport
  • Pillow case (for dirty clothes)

I suggested clothes you feel confident in because I know what it’s like having a mental illness, sometimes it just destroys your self-esteem. You don’t want to feel like crap on your vacation! You want to look hot as hell for all those pictures you’re going to make your boyfriend take of you. Oh, that’s just me?

  • Make-up (this is for the ladies, and maybe some of you men)

I always forget something makeup related. So I just wanted to throw in a little list to help you remember. 

  • Primer
  • Foundation
  • Concealer
  • Setting powder
  • Contour kit (if that’s your thing)
  • Eyeshadow pallet (makes it easier to keep track of all your eyeshadows)
  • Brow things
  • Couple lipsticks 
  • Eyeliner
  • Mascara

But, bring what you need.

  • Self-Care Items

Self-care items are a must. I know most of us almost always forget something. 

  • Face wash
  • Moisturizer 
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Hairbrush
  • Comb
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Leave-in Conditioner (especially if you’re going somewhere humid
  • Body Wash
  • Flat Iron, Curling Iron, Hairdryer, whatever

Other self care:

  • A notebook to write in when having a rough time with your thoughts
  • A good book
  • A comforting item (blanket, stuffed animal, whatever makes you feel at home)
  • A coloring book (if that’s your thing)
  • DVD’s (if you’re bringing a laptop)

So, most of this stuff is pretty obvious. I’ll get more into the mental health tips in my next post. 

-Liz

travel

Complete Guide To Traveling With An Emotional Support Dog

To continue my traveling series, I thought it’d be a good idea to share some tips and ideas for traveling with an emotional support dog. I’ve traveled twice with my little fur baby and I had very little knowledge of traveling with him beforehand. So, these tips are from personal experience. Better to be prepared! This can also be used as advice for traveling with a normal pet. However, spending $90 each way is not fun. 

My little fur baby is, Warren. He’s the sweetest dog in the world, complete attention hog. I got Warren just days before flying out to Tennessee. I had to pay that lovely $90 each way on that trip. I got Warren because I was living alone and feeling quite useless without something to take care of. I went to the mall to shop for some clothes and a birthday present for my mom. Instead, I left with a fur baby. I walked into the pet store (they do adoptions through a pet rescue) and saw his little face. He looked so scared. When we went into the play room he just sat in my lap and was wanting the lady at the store. I knew he’d be attached to me. Turns out, he has about as much anxiety as I do! He wasn’t the breed of dog I wanted, but I fell in love with him. He’s been attached to my hip ever since. 

I strongly recommend traveling with your emotional support dog, or even just your pet. Sure, it can add on some stress to the actual traveling part, but they’re great help if you’re anxious about being away from home. 

My favorite part of bringing Warren with me is the conversations I get to have with strangers at the airport. Someone always wants to pet your dog. And you can tell them no if you want to. I totally get social anxiety, I normally have it. But when I’m anxious about flying, talking to other people is a great distraction. I’ve met some interesting people this way. 

So, how do you successfully travel with your fur baby?

A Complete Guide To Traveling With Your Emotional Support Dog

1. What to pack in your suitcase

  • A blanket (smells like home and is comforting)
  • Toys
  • Light weight bowls
  • Plastic bags
  • Potty pads
  • Treats

2. What to bring in the carry on

  • Your note for the dog (prescription)
  • Tiny water bowl
  • Favorite toy 
  • Favorite type of dog bone
  • Put a potty pad in the carrier just in case
  • Emotional Support Dog vest (if you have one, it’s not required)
  • Plastic bags
  • Treats
  • Leash

3. What to do at the airport 

  • First, let them use the bathroom, just in case
  • Let the person at the ticket counter know you have an emotional support dog. This is who you show the note to. 
  • If you want, ask for preboarding. I’ve been offered this before, helps in finding the right seat on airlines like Southwest. Plus, less people you accidentally hit with the dog carrier on the way to your seat. 
  • Be prepared to go through security

 -take care of yourself, take off your jewelry, shoes, belt, etc. 

-take your dog out of the carrier

-walk through the metal detector carrying your dog (yay skipping the weird body scanner!)

-you’re going to have to have your hands swabbed and wait for the okay

-put the dog in carrier, then take care of yourself

  • Set boundaries with strangers. Know ahead of time if you’re okay with people petting your dog. It’s okay to say, “no.” Also, some people might ask to hold your dog. I strongly advise against this, you don’t want your dog loose in the airport! He might get on the wrong flight! Sorry, another bad joke. 

  • If your dog is in a carrier, once you get to the gate let them stick their head out and look around. It’s cramped in there! Also, this is where you’ll hear the “Awhs” remember, it’s okay to say “no” to people who want to pet them. 

4. What to do on the plane

  • Pick a seat towards the back, try for a window seat. It gives you more time to get everything organized when it’s time to get off the plane. Plus, getting that dang carrier out from under the seat is a pain in the ass. 
  • Slip them some ice cubes during the flight. I know my fur baby won’t drink water on a plane, but he might go for an ice cube. 
  • Be sure to check in on them during the flight. Mine usually just sleeps during the trip, thank god. 


5. After the plane ride

  • Obviously, get your checked bags. But then, take them out to use the restroom. I know at Tampa Bay Airport they have little areas for dogs to do their business. 
  • Rental car tips

-Make sure ahead of time it’s okay to have an emotional support dog in the car. I know Enterprise is okay with it. 

– Bring a lint roller to avoid extra charge for all the dog hair 

-Get a pet car seat or belt. It’ll keep the hair hopefully in one place and it’ll help keep them out of your hair while driving. Warren has a car seat. 


6. Staying with the family (or friends)

  • Let them know ahead of time you plan to bring your dog 
  • Walk them often
  • Have a crate or kennel to put them in when you go out without them to avoid any accidents or chewing. You’ll probably have to but this once you get there. 

7. Staying in a hotel

  • Make sure the hotel knows ahead of time you plan on bringing an emotional support dog. 
  • Bring potty pads!

8. Going out with them

  • Look up dog friendly restaurants
  • Take them to a dog park
  • Bring a water bowl when you’re out
  • Bring treats

-Liz

mental health, travel

Preparing For Travel When You Have Anxiety


Anxiety can make travel seem so ridiculously scary. Even for someone who doesn’t normally have anxiety. But, you can also feel this anxiousness even if you’re excited. I’m counting down the days until I’m in Florida but, the anxiety of flying is creeping up on me. So, I did my flying research, and even have a few tips of my own for being away. 

Know the facts about flying

1. The dangerous taxi

I’ll get this part out of the way right now. When the plane is driving around on the ground, that’s the most dangerous part. This comforts me because we’re still on the ground. 

2. Dang, it’s windy

Ever fly and feel so certain that the turbulence is going to knock you right out of the air? Well, don’t be so scared anymore! I had a flight attendant tell me once that turbulence is just like your car being pushed around by wind on a freeway. It’s totally cool. It’s completely normal, no matter how many ups and downs there are. 

3. Sit with the cool kids 

The back of the plane is where you’ll find the most noise because of the engines. But, if you feel like being social will distract you enough, sit here. In my experience it’s where all the cool people sit and I love it. 

4. Smooth ride

If turbulence is something you just can not handle (I’ve been there) then sit on the wing of the plane. Not literally, that’d be kinda difficult. Bad joke. Anyway! You’ll have a much smoother ride sitting on the wing, a plane is like a see-saw, the middle kinda stays calm. 

5. Safe

Airplanes are actually the safest way to travel. Ignore the news stories, they go all out when something happens to a plane. But, it’s all okay. 

6. That plane has gone through some shit

That plane has been tested and retested. Here are some of the tests: 

  • Wing flexibility 
  • Ingestion testing (birds and stuff)
  • Temperature and altitude testing
  • Velocity minimum unstick testing (test pilot drags plane tail along runway to find minimum speed for take off)
  • Obviously, brake testing
  • Lightning strike testing
  • Low fuel testing 

7. Breathe 

Those oxygen masks, they actually do work. That’s all I got on that, but remember, put yours on first and then help anyone who needs it. 

8. One

Commercial planes can fly with only one engine, and can land safely with no engines. So, you’re all good. 

My personal tips for being away from home

1. Find things to keep you busy 

You’re out of town! There’s so much to do! Find a cool place to get coffee, go be a tourist, enjoy your time. Explore!

 2. Look up cool restaurants

Every town and city is unique. Find a cool place to eat. My favorite place where I’m going (Longboat Key, Florida) is the Dry Dock Grill. They have outdoor seating, bar seating, and upstairs seating. I always sit upstairs by the window and while I’m waiting for my food I always get to see dolphins, sometimes even manatees! My favorite!

3. Room Service

If you’re staying in a nice hotel, check and see if they have room service. Not only will you feel fancy, but it’ll help on those anxious nights when you just can’t get out of the room. It’s okay, you’re on vacation, eat on the bed and watch a trashy rom-com. 

4. Bring a laptop and DVDs

Bring some of your favorite movies. Watch them on the plane. Or, if you’re having a rough night watch one that helps you calm down. 

5. Distract yourself by taking photos

Take pictures of everything. Literally. I’ve even taken pictures of trash on the beach. Like, just find the beautiful things (obviously, the trash photo wasn’t so pretty) and take photos. Anything that interests you. You’ll have some keepsakes of overcoming your anxiety. 

6. Know it won’t be long

Time goes by so quickly when you’re traveling. So just remember, it won’t be long until you’re home. 

7. Get things done ahead of time

Don’t wait until the last minute to do things like I have done. I still have to book a groomer’s appointment for my little fur baby so he looks all sorts of nice on vacation. But, do things like clean the house so you come back to a nice place, wash all the clothes you need, book things like a kennel stay for your dog, any therapy appointment you may need, or a salon appointment so you look fine as fuck on the beach. 

What are your vacation prep tips? How do you deal with anxiety surrounding travel? I’d love to hear your ideas! Comment and let us know!

-Liz

mental health, travel

A Simple Way To Track Your Mental Health On Vacation


The last two times I went on vacation I completely ignored my mental health. It’s just so easy to do on vacation because you’re always distracted from it. But, if you’re anything like me, anytime you ignore your depression it comes back the second you settle down and it comes back hard as fuck. I fell into some serious depressive episodes after getting back from my last two trips. 

That being said, I’ve come up with a way to hopefully prevent my depression from coming back and leaving me in a depressive episode.  I can’t promise this will work, but I’ll give it a shot. Another factors that might add to this is the likelihood I’ll be on new medication right before my trip. We’ll see what happens. 

I absolutely love Mental Health Bullet Journals. I don’t do them as often as I should because I absolutely hate setting them up. There’s so much detail that goes into them, especially the pretty ones you see all the time online. Mine is a bit different from those, a lot more simple. But, feel free to add your own personal touches. These bullet journals help with keeping you aware of your progress and are really great if you’re a busy person. I’m not normally, so it’s pretty simple for me to keep track of how I’m feeling without one. That’s why I’ve created it specifically for my travel when I will be busier than normal. However, these journals are great to use on an every day basis. 

How To Set Up A Simple Bullet Journal 

The pages


Supplies

To keep it as simple as possible, I grabbed just a lined notebook, a ruler, and my favorite type of pen. You can add colored pens, use pencil before going over it with pen, use highlighters, whatever your heart desires. I’ve even seen people use decorative tape to add some color.


The Beginning

I’ve used this notebook before for some mental health tracking. So, to keep things organized I create a page with the month on it. I also like to add a little quote to the page. 


Habit Tracker

These pages help keep you aware of what habits you’re doing. They also help remind you and keep you accountable for the things you need to be doing. I also like to use it for keeping track of my moods. You can personalize this to fit your needs but here are mine: 

Health

  • Headaches
  • Nausea 
  • Sleepiness
  • Insomnia 
  • Appetite 
  • Period

Little Things 

  • Medication #1
  • #2
  • #3
  • Spaces to add, just in case
  • Hours of sleep
  • Minutes exercising 
  • Minutes napping
  • Servings of coffee
  • Marijuana (sometimes I smoke, very rarely though)
  • Servings of alcohol 
  • Packs of cigarettes smoked
  • Minutes with friends
  • Sex (always a good thing to keep track of)

Self Care

  • Showered
  • Bath
  • Makeup 
  • Hair
  • Washed face

Moods 

  • Irritated 
  • Anxious
  • Stressed
  • Angry
  • Sensitive 
  • Sad
  • Focused
  • Distracted
  • Happy
  • Conflict
  • Hyper
  • Depressed 
  • Confidence
  • Content


Habit Tracker Notes

Sometimes, you need to add a little note to remind you of why you felt a certain way or why you did or didn’t do something. If I’m on a new medication, I usually add the amount that I took. Sometimes I add little things about the day that had an impact like, didn’t do a damn thing until noon. 


Daily Done List

This is a more positive way of keeping track of what you’ve accomplished during the day. Sure, to do lists are great and the feeling of checking something off is awesome, but what happens when you don’t do a damn thing on that list? Add what you did to the Daily Done List. No matter how small, you had to have done something. You can add, got out of bed, drank coffee, filled out this journal. Be sure to add what you did do on your to do list as well. 


Daily Gratitude

My favorite way of remaining grateful is to write down a list of 10 things I’m grateful for. But, sometimes I don’t do it. Okay, a lot of the time. So, at least picking one thing a day will help. Or you can add a list daily, whatever you like. This is a great way to remind you to look at the positives, and super easy if you’re busy. 


Therapy Notes

I know this is supposed to be for travel, but I’m starting this journal leading up to my vacation and I have therapy appointments before I leave. It’s always great to write down what you’ve talked about or what you need to talk about. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten everything I was supposed to do for therapy homework. 


Fuck This, Fuck That

We all get angry sometimes. It’s good to have a place to vent. Keep it short and sweet. Don’t spend too long dwelling on the bad. Devote only two pages to this. 


Food Tracker

This one can seem a bit too detailed, but your health is directly dependent on what you eat, or don’t eat. It can help to figure out what foods are causing you to feel a certain way, and if you look back at all the junk food you ate you might feel motivated to change that bad habit. 


Ideas To Review

I get a lot of ideas, some seem so great that it feels super urgent and I have to do them all at once, perfectly. When those ideas come up, it’s good to write them down and revisit them at a later time to see if they still hold their importance. Also, little ideas like home improvements that you don’t want to forget. 


Memorable Moments 

This one is new to me, something I added for just the trip but it’d be good for daily use as well. Just write down anything that stuck out to you during the day, it’d be nice to look back on. 


Little Keepsakes

Ever go on a date and want to keep the concert ticket? Just stick little papers like that in between the pages. It’s always great to look back on those. If you want, create a little pocket for them. 

Bring It To Life

Plan Time

Plan some time each day to fill this out. I like making a space in there so I can fill out my habits Morning and night. Because, a lot of those habits happen twice during a day or your mood may change. 

Carry It With You

Carry it with you to put the little papers in, to update your food tracker, or whatever little things you want to write down during the day. You don’t have to do this, but it’s easy to do during little moments of down time. 

Do It Daily

The whole point of this is to do it daily, it won’t really work otherwise. 

Review It Daily

Look back over the days and see the patterns that happen. What causes you to feel a certain way? Find out by looking back each day. 

-Liz

Lifestyle, mental health, travel, Uncategorized

Taking You With Me

“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

       And,

  • 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!

-Liz