The title ‘how travel saved my life’ probably sounds a bit, if not very, click-bait. But it’s about to get super up close and personal on this here blog guys.
I’ve been toying with the idea of writing on how travel saved my life for a while now. I haven’t felt all too ready until now.
I asked you guys on Twitter which blog post you’d like to see next and the people have spoken. Between how travel saved my life and top tips on living abroad, this one was a clear winner. Then, I came across this quote on Insta from incredible poet Nayyira Waheed and it pushed me to write what I’ve recently been most afraid to write;
Let’s get into it…
‘Post-trip/post-travel depression’ is a well-coined term in the travel industry. After all, it makes sense that anyone would be sad upon returning to rainy England after a month travelling sunny South East Asia. Here’s the thing: sadness is not the same as depression.
Once I’d returned to the good old UK, I was due to start a graduate job, move house and move city. As someone who’s lived abroad before and absolutely loves being on the move, you’d think this was right up my street. And in another lifetime, it would have been.
Long story short, I had begun slipping into a pretty dark place. I could barely get down to the local Tesco’s, let alone move myself halfway across the country. On some days, I didn’t even want to get out of bed. At long last, I took a leap of faith and decided to put myself and my mental health first (more about where that’s got me later so stay tuned..).
With a dash of anxiety for good measure
Five years ago, I climbed mountains in Jordan without a second thought. Two years ago, I packed my bags and moved to France for the year – not yet having sorted out where I was even going to live. Once I finished my year abroad, I boarded a plane to Canada alone to spend time with my cousin who I’d never actually met before. Put simply, I’ve always believed in living life on (or possibly slightly too far over) the edge…
Fast forward a couple of years and I find myself in Vietnam, a place I’ve literally always wanted to go. Motorbiking down the winding Hai Van Pass was a no from me, for fear I might fall off. I didn’t venture into the Cu Chi Tunnels in Ho Chi Minh City, because my claustrophobia made me think I might get stuck in them. I also didn’t want to spend the night alone in hospital alone in case I got kidnapped by Vietnamese mafia.
When I got back to the UK, I stopped doing a lot of things because I was simply too scared to do them. Obviously, these aren’t rational thoughts. But they are thoughts nonetheless.
With a little (a lot) of help from my friends, I decided to put my mental health first, take a break and then follow what I was truly passionate about in life: travel.
November was a slightly rocky month, with me working away in a high-street shop to tide me over and help get me back on my feet. It was a blessing in disguise though, as it allowed me enough time to help myself get better. I reignited my love for writing poetry and reconnected with old friends.
In December – just one month after I’d decided to take a break for the sake of my mental health – the stars aligned and the universe rewarded me. I was offered two incredible jobs in the travel industry; one for industry-leading magazine Wanderlust and the other for upcoming tour operator TruTravels.
Since then, I’ve had my work published in a magazine and attended industry-wide travel exhibitions. To top it all off, I’ve been offered an incredible opportunity to volunteer overseas in Cambodia for three months.
Travel made me realise I was suffering with my mental health in the first instance but then it managed to save me from my own self. In a way, travel saved my life. I absolutely love my job, my amazing colleagues and I live for encouraging others to use travel in a way that impacts positively on their lives. Here’s to 2018, onwards and upwards!
If you or anyone you know is struggling with their mental health, these incredible resources are around to help;
- Mind – a mental health charity offering support for a variety of mental illnesses
- Calm & Headspace – meditation apps that encourage you to stay calm by spending 10 minutes of your day switching off
- Yoga with Adrienne – super helpful if you want to use yoga to de-stress but can’t get down to a gym
- University counselling services
- GPs and medical professional
This was an incredibly hard post for me to write so congratulations and thank you for reading all the way to the end!