I thought I’d come on here today and share something that I think is really important.
When I was making the decision to go travelling back in 2016 I reached out to friends and people that I knew who had done something similar. Most of them encouraged me not to over think it and just go for it, which is great advice. Those friends gave me the push that I needed. Without them, well, who knows what I’d be up to now!
But one friend’s answer stood out to me. Maybe because I was more honest with him about my situation. He told me yeah definitely I should come to Australia. He was having a great time. He’d made some incredible friends and loved where he was living, but not to come with unrealistic expectations. Paraphrasing ‘Girl, Interrupted’ he told me I could change the scenery, but not the situation and that really struck a chord with me.
Travelling won’t fix you when your mental state should be your first priority
I’m going to be honest at first I was kind of pissed off. Did he not want me to come? Was he trying to deter me in some way? If you know anything about anxiety you’ll know that this is only two of a long list of negative anxious predictions. But the more I let it sit – the more I realised he was right. He knew I’d been struggling with depression and anxiety. It was one of the most taxing periods of my life.
I stopped going to university, stopped seeing friends, stopped doing, well, anything. I ceased to exist outside the confines of my own head prison. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. But what I know for sure from that experience is if I’d of gone travelling at that point, I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy it. I just wasn’t in the right headspace.
On top of the existing worries, my flatmate added to the pile of mounting concerns pointing out what would happen if I had a panic attack abroad, alone in a strange country? Who would I ask for help? … She was right, I hadn’t even considered it. In my mind, I was already on that plane.
I’ve had some of the best moments of my life on my travels, but there’s nothing in this life that comes without challenges. That’s something you always have to be mindful of. Especially when it comes to safety as a woman travelling solo.
I see a lot of people writing about how travelling helped fix their mental state and I don’t doubt that in some way it helped them. I just think it’s irresponsible to take it at face value. The truth is travelling won’t fix you. It is not a magic wand that’s going to turn your shitty pumpkin into a carriage.
Yes, I believe it is an experience that is likely to affect your life and your being in a variety of ways. Yes, I think everyone should get out there into the world if they have the opportunity. I am so passionate about this. However, if you’re thinking of travelling long term as a means of escaping something before you leave you need to do some self-work.
Please do not just up and leave without getting yourself in check. I don’t mean making sure you’re fully ‘cured’ for some of us that just isn’t possible. I mean if your closest friend was feeling the way you felt at this moment would you be comfortable waving her off into the world? If the answers no get yourself to that point and your experience will be 10x better I promise.
Why shouldn’t you just leave and figure out the rest later?
Your outer reality is a direct reflection of your inner reality
If you are going through a loss so profound it feels like a piece of your self is missing. I’ve been there, I’m here with you. If you have reached the bottom of the depression barrel and you’re wondering how much further you can possibly sink. I’ve been there, I’m here with you. If your anxiety is stopping you from making the most of your life and you’re searching for anything to add colour into your world again. I’ve been there and I’m here with you.
If in your head all these anxious or depressed or heartbroken thoughts are swirling around – no matter where you go you will carry them with you. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t go, and to cancel any future plans. Just if/when you do – don’t use travel as an excuse to run away from your problems. It simply won’t work.
But you know what? There is hope.
The fact the idea has crossed your mind means you’re searching for something. Trying to find a solution is one step closer to fixing the problem. And yes even if only in a small way the problem can be fixed. For me, the ways I found changed my life.
Three months after I had that conversation with my friend I booked my ticket. I’d been to two different counselors. I had a friend who’d done a great job of bribing me to leave the house with cake. My self-esteem had picked up out of the minuses. I was back to uni, still hating it, but you know I was there and that counts for something! I felt like yeah you know what I could actually do this. I was excited about life again. And I honestly don’t have the words to describe how amazing that felt.
When you’ve come from a place of not even remembering that excitement exists. It’s like going outside for the first time and seeing the world in all it’s technicolour glory. Wow. Even today just being outside and stopping to look around sometimes makes me a bit emotional.
So please don’t take this from a place of me trying to ruin your fun or stop you from getting out there and living your best life. This comes from the highest place of love I have. I want you to have the best time. I want you to be the best version of yourself. I want you to see things that make you cry, laugh, skip for joy – whatever it is I just want you to be able to feel it fully.
These days am I cured? The short answer is no. I still experience anxiety. I still have issues with control. But I don’t feel like there’s nothing good in my life. I don’t feel so miserable that life isn’t worth living. I spend more days crying from laughter than crying from despair (mostly at my own jokes but whatever, I’m hilarious).
My worst days now have nothing on my worst days two years ago. That isn’t because of travel. That’s because I woke up one day deciding to climb out of the darkness and see my life for the first time again.
And when I did it was beautiful.
What advice would you give to someone who’s going through difficult times? Share in the comments below!