Having mental health problems can make life difficult, but I am a firm believer that it shouldn’t stop you from doing anything you want to do.
As many of you will know, I have bipolar disorder and struggled with an eating disorder for many years. I also love to travel. Whilst it’s true that it might be slightly more challenging to travel if you struggle with your mental health, it is absolutely still possible and something I would recommend to anyone! I’ve learnt lots of ways to make travelling with mental health problems accessible, safe, and most of all, fun!
Pack everything you would use at home for your mental health. Medication, anything that calms you down or comforts you, and phone numbers for people to talk to if things get tough.
Get the right insurance. You don’t want to be worrying that if anything does go wrong, you won’t be covered for any support you might need.
Learn about the countries you’re visiting – the temperature, language, food, do’s and don’t’s. Know what you’ll be doing and when. Having some structure relieves a huge amount of anxiety for me, and helps me to feel prepared and ready to go.
This was one of the more difficult things for me to learn. It’s natural to always want to keep up with what everyone else is doing, and to want to do every single thing that there is to offer. However, taking on too much can be detrimental to your mental and physical health. It’s so important to be able to say no sometimes, and to be honest with yourself and with other people about your limits. Some days you might need to take it easy, go to bed early, or spend some time alone – and that’s okay.
Look After Yourself:
There can be a tendency for people to go on holiday and think this is almost a free pass for eating terribly, drinking lots and generally not taking care of themselves. This is something I am often guilty of myself.
Going away can certainly be a great opportunity to unwind, but it’s important to remember that you have the same mind and the same body as you left home with. It still needs the same things to keep well as it did before leaving the country; be that a stable diet, enough sleep or time to yourself.
Don’t neglect your self care, your mind and body will thank you for it.
Be Kind to Yourself:
It’s entirely possible that your mental health might impact upon your time away. Mental illness is not a choice, and sometimes it can get the best of you no matter how much care you take. If that does happen, don’t beat yourself up – it’s not your fault. Don’t let one bad morning, or afternoon, or day, ruin the rest of your adventure. Every day is a new day to explore, eat new foods, meet new people, see new sights. Take each day as it comes, and try not to worry about the possibilities.
Lastly – have an amazing time! Soak up everything, take lots of photos, keep a journal. Do whatever you need to do get the most out of your adventure.
I strongly believe that travel should be something that anybody can do should they want to, and I really hope that this might have encouraged some of you who might’ve been worried about it to start thinking about your next trip!
This year I’ve been to Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia. I’ve got Edinburgh, Dublin and Spain to come still in 2018!
Where are you off to next?