What I Learned When I Traveled and My Depression Followed Me
Depression follows you everywhere you go. I’ve been trying to outrun mine for as long as I can remember. So when it hit me in some of the most beautiful places in the world, I was left wondering if this was what happiness felt like.
Maybe life was just a constant gray instead of living in full color.
I spent a full day in bed in Paris, France. Instead of seeing the beautiful sights, I opted to cower under the sheets in my rental, wondering how the hell I had gotten here. I was wondering what happened in my life that made me feel like I wasn’t worth love.
I hiked up a mountain in Granada, Spain. Instead of looking out at the most amazing view I’ve ever seen with two people I love dearly, I was wondering how quickly I could get down. I was wondering how quickly I could hide away from the world again. I wanted to sleep. I was just too tired of being in my own head.
I couldn’t leave my apartment in Vienna, Austria. I wanted to see the sights. I wanted to see everything Vienna had to offer but instead, I stayed in the apartment I rented and thought about how unappreciative I was. I was the worst person for having all of these opportunities and completely wasting them.
I got lost in my own head in Popoyo, Nicaragua. I had to sit with myself in extreme silence and pay attention to all of those disgusting thoughts I had managed to push away for so long. I heard the deep insecurities that were plaguing me and I realized there that I was broken. I was broken and I wasn’t going to be able to fix it. I wasn’t going to fix it because I really just didn’t care about myself anymore.
I thought about how my family and friends would be better off without me in London, United Kingdom. I just wanted to not be around anymore. I didn’t want people to rely on me. I didn’t want to care about anyone else’s feelings. I wanted to be completely alone and I didn’t want anyone to know what I was doing. I was retreating inside myself and even though I could see it, I couldn’t stop it.
I made major mistakes in Calgary, Canada. It was home but when I took a quick escape from Europe to see my people, I made old mistakes. The old mistakes led me to believe once again that I am not a good person. I’m impulsive and I’m all for instant gratification without thinking my actions through. It’s because I didn’t care. I just wanted to stop feeling like something was missing.
I tried to heal in Geneva, Switzerland. I tried to let myself think that things were starting to get better. I had friends. I was starting over. I was getting to a place where I could be myself again. I felt like maybe, just maybe my hopelessness was gone and I didn’t have to worry anymore. I didn’t have to worry about being sad because this temporary relief felt great.
I had a breakdown in Edinburgh, Scotland. After thinking that maybe things were starting to get better, I was walking through the streets of one of the most beautiful places in the world with two people I love more than anything and all I could think was, “Is this it?” I didn’t feel anything inside. I didn’t feel happy. I felt like for the rest of my life I was going to live half alive. I was going to just have to deal with the fact happiness isn’t for everyone. So I cried. And I couldn’t stop crying for multiple hours.
I had a major anxiety attack in Bordeaux, France. I felt it build in my chest. I had been on antidepressants for one week, so when the anxiety hit, I was woken from my sleep in a panic. I started to move around the hotel room with so much energy I wasn’t even sure where it came from. My brain was bouncing back from telling me to calm down to telling me to freak out. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I just needed to get out of that room.
I healed, really healed, in Brighton, United Kingdom. After weeks of therapy, weeks of antidepressants, weeks of not knowing if I was going to overcome my mental illness, I started to feel better. I felt the fog start to lift. I felt the pain of constantly hating yourself start to lift. I felt that getting out of bed wasn’t such a brutal chore anymore. I finally started finding myself again, with a lot of help from other people.
I’ve taken my depression to some of the most beautiful places in the world. I’ve let it rule my decisions for the last while. Depression and anxiety aren’t a joke. They’re not something someone pretends to have to be on trend. Depression and anxiety are real and they hurt.
They take the most amazing things and turn them into something you fear or hate.
I didn’t deal with my mental health soon enough. I should have done it earlier but I also learned a lot about it over those months and destinations. I know who I am now. I know depression isn’t going to rule my life anymore. I just hope, if you are where I was, you know that you’re going to be OK. I hope you can reach out to someone and let them know where you’re at.
You are loved. You will get through this.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.
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Unsplash photo via Brooke Cagle