Today I’ve been thinking a lot about travel.
I recently booked a trip with a friend who I met when I worked in the Philippines last year; and I’m planning a holiday with my boyfriend for next year too.
Travel is good for my soul; I love seeing new places, eating new foods and meeting different people. It helps me to unwind and forget about the stresses of home.
However, travelling when you struggle with your mental health can be daunting. One of the things I worry about most, particularly with long distance travel, is jet lag and a lack of sleep. Regular and adequate sleep is one of the most important parts of staying well with mental health, but especially with bipolar disorder. I know for me that changes to my sleep is an early indicator that I could be getting unwell, and can also be the first trigger for a relapse. But I am aware of this, and take all precautions possible to stay in control; sleeping on the plane, trying to reset as quickly as possible, and taking extra medication if I need it. So far this has never presented a problem for me, but it still causes me anxiety knowing that it could. Mental illness can be scary enough at home, let alone somewhere you don’t know and don’t understand. Something I have learned over the years though, is that I should never let my health get in the way of things I want to do, so I try to live by that.
One thing I have noticed, is that visiting new places is so much more enjoyable since being in recovery from anorexia. Previously I would’ve spent weeks and even months filled with anxiety about what I could and couldn’t eat, and I’d sometimes spend hours wandering around places trying to decide what I could have – often deciding on nothing in the end. Now it is exciting for me; I love getting to experience that part of different cultures – it’s one of my favourite things about visiting new places!
I haven’t been to anywhere near as many places as I’d like especially with university over the last theee years; but I’m slowly checking them off my list. Every year I tell myself I am going to save more money and spend it on experiences not belongings; but I have poor impulse control and find it hard not to shop!
Next year I have booked to go to Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, and I am booking Bali soon. I also plan to visit Ibiza with my friends, and hopefully a short city break with my boyfriend; we’ve been to Berlin and Paris the last two years and it’s been a lovely little escape from the stresses of life even just for a couple of days.
We all need a break sometimes, and whether you choose to spend yours snuggled up at home or off exploring, the important thing is that we give ourselves time and space to recharge in whatever way we need to.