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Velocity:Inertia Stories of my Adventures

Day 7: Wherever you go, there you are.

INDIA | Sunday, 30 August 2015 | Views [347]

I suppose it is inevitable that if I am going to write authentically, I am have to speak about how the symptoms of chronic depression play into my every day life, and, more specifically, my travels.

It's hard to know what is "average," but I believe I have more days than the average human in which I feel uncontrollably unmotivated and inconsolably sad. It has been like this for me for a long time. There seem to be mountains of writing about "the stigma of mental illness." I know for a fact that I have been judged for it. I was made fun of for it as a kid and people occasionally remark on the manifestations of it now. It is hard not to judge myself. "Why can't I just stop being like this?" "Why has all the work I've put into this seem to have led me to still not being able to get out of bed?" The stigma is so pervasive it is impossible to not internalize it, but living with these feelings is also just exhausting to keep dealing with. It's like digging a hole thinking you'll get to china at the end, but the hole only grows marginally deeper with every year of persistent digging. Progress is usually slow. Progress cannot necessarily be tightly contained or controlled, though sometimes there is an illusion of that. Giving into the illusion leads to unproductive self blame.

Does that mean I should not travel given the opportunity? Hell no. Does it mean that the way I travel is going to look different from the spunky, Intrepid go getter backpacker stereotype? A thousand times yes.

The complete truth is, up until this point and for the present moment, depression is a part of my life. I would be and was depressed at home, and sometimes I am depressed when I travel. Wherever you go, there you are. I had no misconceptions going into this trip that it was going to be the magic wand that would change this for me. Though I think ultimately I'll be better off to have at least tried to see some of the things in the world that I've been curious about for so long.

Today was a depressed day. Today was a fetal position in my hostel bed day, staring into my phone and texting a lot with people back home, worrying about every possible thing I could think of and not being able to conceive of making the journey I had planned for that night. I was supposed to fight my way across Delhi to catch an overnight train to Rishikesh. Didn't happen. Isn't going to. But as I sit here comfortable in this strange bed, I am confident that I did what I needed to in order to take care of myself. I may not be able to eliminate depression from my life, but I've had a lot of chances to practice coping with it over the years. Part of coping with it is just knowing when not to push oneself too hard. Something that is doable one day might feel impossible the next, and that's okay.

I think one myth that needs to be done away with is that people with depression don't know how to be grateful for what they have. For me, and for many others I've known and helped, that isn't necessarily true. I can write you a list thousands of items long about what is positive in my life. But that nice, neat, logical list does not suddenly pull the rug out from an overwhelming negative emotion. if emotions we're logical, they wouldn't be emotions. I wish getting over depression was as simple as thinking about what I'm grateful for. But that's not how chemical imbalances and natural responses to societal issues work. If someone's leg is broken, do you yell at them for being in pain because all their other limbs are fine? 

A British lady named Tessa approached me at lunch in the hostel because she is traveling alone and noticed I was too. We took a walk to a clothing store and back in the stifling heat. I didn't find anything I wanted but still felt proud of myself for doing it, and immeasurably grateful to this stranger for reaching out. I wouldn't have done it alone.

I returned to my bed afterward to cool off but never left. I began to obsess about wanting to go home, but becoming still more sad knowing that it would not solve the problems I was having. My compromise is that I would leave India earlier than planned- it costs a whopping $19 to change my ticket. I figured, I may still be homesick when I get to Bangkok, but at least I will be in a more hygienic environment where I am not constantly in fear of getting food poisoning. Without going into too much detail, I've already been having some physical issues that are not severe but remind me that I am constantly playing with fire.

I still want to see the Taj Mahal, and I think I'll be able to motivate myself to schlep to where I need to go to in order to change my train tickets tomorrow (to see it sooner and then move on from here.) I'm curious to see more, but the pull to leave is quite simply outweighing that.


Tags: delhi, depression

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