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South-East Asia

Travel Depression

THAILAND | Wednesday, 27 December 2017 | Views [254]

Although there’s a lot to expect from travelling, good and bad, predicted and unpredicted. No one really tells you that your going to get depression. Yes a serious mental condition that shouldn’t be used lightly, and a condition I had never experienced before. I was 2 weeks into my trip around South-east Asia with many weeks to go. I was experiencing the most amazing things. I mean life changing and was so incredibly grateful. I’d worked so hard to be here, left my boyfriend and family at home. Even left my job. But there was a problem, I wasn’t happy, so what would you normally do? Go and do something that made you happy and being an introvert for me that was seeing viewpoints and scenery, minimal tourism, peaceful and beautiful. This made me happy. Although it was breath taking, I was still being held back, something was stopping me from being happy, and it never went away no matter what I did.  This was a new feeling of sadness I could not comprehend. To the point where I was in tears daily, constantly felt empty even during these amazing experiences and barely eating from loss of appetite, which caused my weight and health to plummet. 

 

After some research, I came across the theory of travelling depression. Although most people have depression before they go away I seemed to have these feelings because of travelling. This made me incredibly angry at myself and also ashamed. I was doing something amazing how on earth could I be depressed? I was upset and too ashamed to tell anyone because I knew I’d be judged and people would tell me to suck it up. But depression is an imbalance of natural chemicals in the brain. It isn’t something you can just turn off, so I knew these feelings weren’t my fault, I couldn’t help it. 

 

So I’m miles away from home, family and friends and most importantly Medical care. I am determined not to go home and will not let this define my experience. Finding medication was hard, yes there was your dodgy pharmacies selling xanax but I’d read nightmare forums online and stayed far away. I found a boots pharmacy that prescribed me Zoloft, I didn’t even know if thats what I should be taking, but in a dark place I took it. The side effects were pretty sudden, first drowsiness, then diarrhoea and an upset stomach and the worst insomnia. The first night I took it I never went into a deep sleep which made me feel even worse about myself. After some research I found that most people experience first week symptoms, others experience it for longer or worse they never go. On top of this the medication doesn’t usually take effect until 3-4 weeks of daily doses. So not only was I going to be depressed, but add on insomnia, diarrhoea and drowsiness, for almost half my trip. It just wasn’t worth it I’d rather be sad.

 

I’d come on this trip to push myself to do things I wouldn’t normally do, the first being travel. As an introvert I was completely out my comfort zone, I wasn’t staying in places for more than 3/4 days, constant new surroundings, I had no home comforts, I was constantly angry and disappointed in myself for feeling like this. I honestly believed there was something wrong with me. Even though I was doing what I thought was good for me, it completely back fired in the most unexpected way. 

 

All I wanted to do was fall back in love with myself, the world and life. Now I’m not saying I was living a bad life, I think I was just desensitised to life, same old everyday, Groundhog Day as they say and I was predictable, I was seen as organised and structured, that was my personality and I wanted show people and more importantly myself that I could spontaneously travel, and at the young age of 21. It would be a huge self achievement. 

 

I did a lot of research on survival tips to help me in order to ensure I finished my trip. Some of the tips helped, some not at all for me. Having a comfort item from home basically saved me and that was my teddy bear, with a smell I was addicted to. Yes I am an adult but I have no shame over this. Find something you can physically touch and smell, it’s more comforting than photos or face time. Even an item of food, as in Asia it’s often hard to find what you are use to. I love crisps, however seaweed flavour just didn’t do it for me. One thing I brought from home was bovril, which I love, another home comfort I could have when feeling low. 

 

I researched that being in contact on a daily basis from home was a bad idea, however this wasn’t the case for me. Having a boyfriend at home meant I was in constant contact and he helped me, we scheduled daily phone calls or face time sessions, at the same time everyday, in keeping with the time difference. Other people mentioned feeling worse after being in contact but it actually lifted me so much. Speaking to my mum and younger siblings on a regular basis was amazing, a true healer because they were so excited to see me and so proud, so it made me feel incredibly loved and supported and gave me something to look forward to in the evenings, which were often the hardest for me. 

 

It’s important to discover what triggered the worst feelings, which at the start was hard because it was always the same feeling but I soon found that I was worst on travelling days, which happened around twice a week, where I am travelling to another area within the country. Once I realised this I could mentally prepare myself. I knew what I was in for, loss of appetite and a lot of stress because in Thailand there isn’t a lot of structure and you never really know how your going to get to the next place. You just pay for the transfer and they take you there. I prepared by downloading music and episodes on Netflix, and basically telling myself that it was just for today, positive vibes. 

 

Another trigger for me was the partying, drinking side of travel, where society made me feel as though I had to be a crazy backpacker in order to have a good time. As a strong introvert, this was not what I liked to do. Even at home I wouldn’t consider myself a party animal socialite. Junk food in bed with a good film was my favourite thing, and this is what I wanted to do most evenings I was travelling, I enjoyed this and it gave me some home comfort. But I felt guilt, that I wasn’t experiencing travelling to the fullest because everyone else my age goes partying every night and this gave me a lot of anxiety. Society and peer pressure were telling me I wasn’t having as much fun as everyone else so I had to do what they were all doing. 

 

 I am not saying I want to be alone and not have any interaction with other travellers. I don’t have a social disorder, it just means that I’m far enough out my comfort zone and that combined with the emotions left me feeling more reserved and quiet. This is my normal domineer when a situation is new to me. I prefer to observe rather than be the loud one. 

 

Above all, I love my sleep. It is 100% my happy place. I’m not the sort of person that can function on less than 5 hours sleep and I never will be. So it was important for me to realise that I didn’t have to go out partying, even for the whole trip, and if I didn’t once that was okay. I’m quiet I liked my relaxed environments, book in hand. I am a peaceful traveller and needed to appreciate this and stop trying to change, it was not helping my situation. So for the rest of the trip I will be sticking to relaxed hostels, and distance myself away from the party scene, enough so that I can go into that sort of environment when I feel comfortable, rather than being forced into it. 

 

My family are strong believers in herbal healing and for many years have used homeopathy. With me travelling I had my Homeopathic basic 36 remedies kit, costing between £40-£50. Although some people will strongly disagree on the effectiveness of homeopathy, I personally find it works for me. 

 

Each evening I took Calcerea Carbonica, which helped lift me out of my slump. This homeopathic remedy can be taken for depression that is overbearing, you worry and fret about everything, stress begins to pile up, which eventually creates a depression that seems impossible to get out of. There are lots of other homeopathic remedies that can be used to help depression, for me Calcarea Carbonica was most suited to how I was feeling. If you do not have accessibility to a homeopathy book a simple google search will bring up what homeopathic remedies can be used to help depression and anxiety. Each will have a description depending on what you are feeling, therefore tailored to you. 

 

I know this isn’t for everyone but it is a suggestion, and with it being herbal there are no side effects or damage to the body. Above all the basic kit can help treat many other unwanted problems you may face during your travels, such as sun stroke, diarrhoea, headaches and much more. It is something I would highly recommend. 

 

I’m sure there will be some criticism and there will be people who don’t agree with how I felt, and that’s okay, getting depressed whilst travelling was a shock to me. But I didn’t write this for those people it’s for the people that have gone away travelling and been hit by unsuspected emotions like depression and anxiety. 

 

This started out as a way for me to express my feelings and put everything into perspective. But then I soon realised that this could be great advice to someone that is going through a similar situation. If you are then I just want you to know that you are no alone, and hopefully my experience gets you through yours. Be kind to yourself, you are doing something truly amazing. It may not feel like it at the moment, but in years to come you and I are going to look back on this experience and it’s going to be nothing but ecstatic feelings. 

Tags: depression, south-east asia, travel

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