I want to talk about travel and depression, because I have much experience dealing with depression and I don’t feel like it’s gets talked about often enough.
Should you travel with depression? I wouldn’t recommend it but it’s a personal choice.
Depression can feel like a huge black hole sucking you in, making you worry about everything, but feel nothing but numb.
If you travel with depression, it will make you feel completely lost in the already seemingly, endless black hole.
You’re already in it and that’s bad enough, right? Don’t go get lost in there too, you’ll just make yourself feel worse.
TRAVEL AND DEPRESSION
I have even experienced depression striking whilst I’ve been travelling. And I don’t recommend putting yourself in this situation, it’s an incredibly lonely time.
Depression is an extremely debilitating condition that is difficult to overcome, requiring inner strength and support from others.
Travel can be many things, challenging, exciting, inspiring, motivating, exhausting, joyous and fulfilling.
But one thing travel is not, is a way to heal yourself from depression or other mental illness.
Recovering from mental illness such as depression or anxiety, requires great strength, courage and persistence.
It can be quite a bold and courageous move to go travelling alone, it definitely was for me. And although I was emotional when I left for the first time, I wasn’t depressed.
Travelling involves a lot of culture shock, rapidly adapting to change often, communication barriers, relying on your gut instinct or intuition and being resourceful and dependent on only yourself.
If you’re feeling depressed or down and you can’t confidently say you’d be able to deal with all of that, then don’t go. At least not yet.
IS TRAVEL GOOD FOR DEPRESSION?
Many people believe that when they experience feeling continually downhearted or go through a period of depression, that going travelling will cure their despondent, low-spirited feelings and help them ‘find themselves’.
Depression does without a doubt, make its sufferers feel lost and feel like they have no focus or purpose. Going travelling seems like a good idea because it gives the person a sense of purpose and something positive to focus on.
However, although the thoughts and forward projection of going travelling are motivating and inspiring for someone feeling depressed, the physical act of actually going is another thing entirely.
Ever heard of the well-known saying (and aptly named Crowded House song) “Everywhere you go, you always take the weather with you”?
In the case of depression, that saying is entirely accurate.
If you feel depressed or anxious and you go travelling – you will just drag that shit around the world with you, everywhere.
You would still end up having to deal with it, but in a foreign country, with no support network around you.
As I have suffered from depression in the past several times, odds would have it, that I have been travelling when a period of depression has crept up on me.
Constantly changing situations can antagonise already ‘dormant’ depression. For instance, sometimes when I house-sit for only short periods and have to move around a lot, it can create a really unpleasant, unsettled feeling.
If the moving continues, the unsettled feeling persists and it causes me to suddenly feel depressed and lost.
A sense of not belonging anywhere is also a common emotion I deal with when I live a nomadic life, as do many travellers I’ve spoken to during my travels.
GET HELP FOR YOUR DEPRESSION FIRST – THEN GO
This personal experience and knowledge alone, is enough for me to insist that you deal with your issues before you go off to explore the world.
Your doctor would be the first port of call.
However if you’re interested in seeing if a little natural health would help first, do some research and see if natural mood enhancers are right for you.
Herbal remedies such as; St Johns Wort, 5HTP, or even taking a decent Magnesium or B-Vitamin complex supplement can really lift your mood, with few side effects. (I find this Magnesium the best).
So if you’re reading this and you’re feeling down or depressed and you think travel is the answer, please get some help and do some self-development first.
You don’t have to be perfect; but you should be capable of dealing with what the travel life throws at you. Which is a LOT.
You don’t need to be superhuman but you should be savvy enough to think on your feet and be independent, without being an emotional wreck.
Take it from someone who has done both, it’s no fun travelling when you’re depressed. You don’t feel joyous or excited about anything and then you feel guilt for not experiencing everything that place has to offer. It’s a viscous, damaging circle.
Being mindful and living in the moment, is the only way to feel joy when travelling and feel fulfilled from it. So if you’re depressed and dwelling on the past, or you’re anxious about the future, you’ll never be living in the ‘now’.
And that’s where the fun is.
Take care and happy, safe travels 🙂
Disclaimer:I am not a Doctor, nor a Health Professional.I only suggest natural health alternatives that worked for me. However they may not be suitable for everyone, so please seek your doctors advice first.