How can depression and travel be managed and co-exist?

travel-depressionSo maybe you hit my blog because you want to travel to one of amazing places I have been to, or maybe you’re an adventure motorcyclist and want to rip down the roads I have put many kilometres on.

Whatever the reason, you’re here; you’re my audience so I am going to address something that many people hate to talk about, depression and travel. If you have suddenly taken the step to change your life, to redirect the trajectory towards something that will be the envy of all your friends, chances are there may have been a trigger for this sudden leap of faith.

For me, life threw some curve balls, and I was at one of those forks in the road, turn left and I would be rebuilding what was left of my life, I was used to it, it’s happened before and I survived, but this time around I asked myself the question, what happens if I turn right?

Turning right for me, saw me selling most of the things I owned, house, possession’s, things that I thought defined me, but one thing I got from this process in itself is that letting go of all those things that you have collected as material memories, you do not loose, because selling them will give you new opportunities, and those memories you had with those items you still own.

Now fast forward to getting onto a plane, if you’re like me and suffer from depression, the black dog, coupled with social anxiety, you can only imagine how difficult it was to make that leap. I did my research; I had my game plan, what was the worst that would happen? I would land in a new country, a new city and freak the fuck out, then throw away a massive opportunity and return home.

Well I didn’t go and return home, and if you have read any of my other stories you would see some of the amazing and life changing opportunities I have made myself. I am doing something with my life few have the balls to do, let alone manage this life with depression and social anxiety.

post-travel-depressionNow one thing you need to bear in mind if you are choosing to follow this path; depression will not leave you, the memories of your past you are trying to escape will still haunt you if you have not dealt with them, but I will tell you this, that time and distance makes dealing with those demons more manageable.

For me, every new adventure I undertake has a process, research, planning, execution and reflection. Now this whole process is part of the experience, all of it is exciting.

When I arrive at a new destination, seeing something for the first time with my own eyes, there’s an absolute wonderment that courses through every part of my brain, it is like adrenalin, and chasing this feeling is addictive and for me it is a positive diversion from the reality that is depression.

Don’t expect that this feeling can be maintained though, I guess if you had deep enough pockets you would be able to continue riding the rollercoaster of excitement for an indefinite period, but like most there’s a budget, and there is the reality that money funds this.

Vang Vieng river crossing BridgeSo with down time, the ghosts of the past do visit, they will keep you awake at night, they will try and sew the seed of self-doubt in your journey you’re on.

Don’t give in to it though, because this down time can be used to make new contacts, new friends, explore online where your next adventure will be, plan ahead, keep some structure to your life so that the thoughts that rattle in your mind don’t end up owning you.

Another extremely important factor in your decision to take this road is post travel depression. If you’re someone who already has depression, the feeling of leaving your holiday or adventure can leave you potentially feeling worse, because all the excitement and distractions are over, the demons have a great opportunity to resurface and take control. It does not have to be this way.

Tubing in Vang Vieng is still available, the style that Vang Vieng is best known for, the activity that quickly put the small town on the map for backpackers with the invitation of drugs, cheap booze and all night parties is no longer.One way I work through this after I have been on an adventure, like take my recent 6000km ride to China, coming back to my adopted home in Thailand saw me crash, it was a combination of exhaustion and post travel depression.

To combat this, I started planning the next adventure immediately, and also spend time making videos of the trip I had just been on to help take my mind back to the ‘happy place’ that it was while there.

Other obvious things to keep in mind is your medication. If your someone who is on daily meds, this is something that is extremely important to continue, but do your research, find out if the countries you are wanting to travel to will allow your specific drugs into them, and make a plan for how you will top up on more meds when you run out.

Travel can help your depression, it has the potential to build you into a stronger person if you are open to the experiences that you are about to have.

Embrace them all.

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