I always knew there would be several challenges along the travelling road, and one of them was going to be my unstable mental health. For starters, I seem incapable of sticking with anything for longer than six weeks before I seem to be plagued with overwhelming anxiety followed by crippling depression and ability to do nothing but cry for days. After two weeks of this, without fail, I have walked away from whatever situation I consider it is that is causing my anxiety and headed straight to the doctors, back home or in to a duvet cave feeling ashamed of my inability to cope in the adult world. So what did I do, knowing this about myself? Yes… booked three months away. And what happened? Well actually I think I lasted a little bit longer than six weeks, but not by much.
At this point my anxiety kicked in, full steam ahead. Interestingly, it didn’t really kick in about travelling, it turns out that all the things that give you the saddies back at home jump in your suitcase and come along for the ride. Yeah you might be distracted for a bit but ultimately, you can’t run away from your problems and actually everything is amplified here – the highs and the lows. But then you get the guilt for worrying or getting upset about stupid things back at home that you can’t control and don’t need to be thinking about and you start to beat yourself up about that too. ‘I’m on a once in a lifetime trip and I’m not enjoying myself.’ added to this, the possibility to feel isolated and lonely is greatly increased when you’re cut off from the support network you rely on to help you get back on track. This resulted in nearly two weeks of the elephant on my chest anxiety waking me up every morning and culminated in two days of unrelenting sobbing in a duvet cave I made in the hostel bed.
I was counting the days off until Japan – thinking that this change of scenery and pace might distract me again and telling myself that I could get through this even if I didn’t enjoy it. But deep within me, and at the suggestion that I should fly home if it was really that bad, this deep uncomfortable feeling that I had set myself a task too big and this was going to be just another thing for me to fail at was whirring in my head. I was travel weary, emotionally exhausted and didn’t really know what to do with myself.
And then I turned a corner. I’m not going to say I woke up and everything was better but I started properly enjoying myself again. Firstly I reached out to people who I knew would help me feel less alone with my feelings and could break down the really bad days in to some small goals for me. I met a couple of amazing people in Sapa and had an incredible time there, which gave me a mood boost and reminded me why I want to be out here. Then I met up with a friend from home – having a great night out with her to make the most of the 24hrs together and spending plenty of time cuddling – which I think I needed more than anything.
Now today I realised I have just a couple more days in Thailand, then just two weeks in Japan, and although I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at Christmas I don’t want this to be over either! I still feel guilty that I wasted a couple of weeks feeling shit and I’m still getting some bursts of anxiety but I’m incredibly proud of myself that I stuck with it and found out what happens on the other side of my six week meltdown! Hopefully it’s not a double-dip type deal and I’m wheeling downhill from here.
This, combined with exhaustion, has been responsible for my lack of posting here in the last couple of weeks. I think it’s pretty likely that some of these posts will come out of order, after Christmas, when I have all the pictures to hand and a laptop that doesn’t keep malfunctioning!