This is a story of how I found personal growth whilst travelling and overcame my depression. It starts in 2012 when my Sister was murdered. It’s as shocking and disturbing as you could imagine. My whole world came crashing down in an instant that night I was told the news.
I didn’t know what to think or feel. I just felt numb for a long time. Nothing interested me anymore. It was as if a part of me died with her that night too.
I tried to fight the sadness, but after that came anger. Anger at the world.Anger at the person who had done this. Anger at myself for not being able to prevent it. Why did this happen to her?
I didn’t work for over a year. I was too depressed. Other than to visit the job-centre, my counsellor, and my family I rarely left the house. Frequently I would bail on plans with friends at the last minute and make up excuses. Whilst they knew my current situation, I didn’t want them to know just how bad my mental health had gotten.
In 2013 I discovered Futureme.org that allows you to write letters to your future self. I wrote this to myself 3 years later:
“Did you ever manage to go travelling? Or was that another dream that you put off?
I wish I could give some advice from your former self but really it should be you giving me some. I hope the last 3 years have gone well and that everything soon falls into place, as you deserve happiness.
Today has been a bad day, but there’s always tomorrow.”
Even at my worst, I was still optimistic about the future. I still had hopes and dreams and wanted to get better. I knew I couldn’t continue my life much longer living this way.
A trip to overcome depression?
Later that year I took a trip with my ex-partner to Belgium. It was the first time travelling without my family and whilst nervous, I was also excited. After spending over a year in a state of depression it was the breakthat I needed.
Whilst in Bruges I didn’t take any of my anti-depressants. It wasn’t due to carelessness, but rather because I felt I didn’t need to anymore. It was strange as I’d been reliant upon these pills for the past 12 months, yet there was an urge to try to go without them.
The road to recovery
That was the last time I ever took anti-depressants. The following few months were up and down but overall my mood dramatically improved. I found a job, booked another holiday and started seeing friends again. The ‘old me’ was soon starting to show through and I felt like I had, in fact, overcome depression. I discovered my passion for travel and wanted to experience everything that the world could offer.
Whilst I haven’t taken any medication for depression since; I have had periods where I’ve seen a counsellor. These times have usually been when I’ve suffered a loss like a family member dying or a break-up. I recognise these stressful triggers may result in my depression coming back and I’m proactive at preventing it from doing so. Anxiety can still be an issue for me but on the whole, I’m able to manage it well.
I do get post-travel depression, but then a lot of people do too. I’m lucky enough to go on trips several times a year so usually have another trip booked on my return. It also helps to not go to work straight after and have a few days to relax and get sorted out at home.
There’s nothing worse than having to go straight back into your old routine whilst jet-lagged.
Travel has opened up new opportunities, which my past self could only have dreamed of. I love everything about travelling. Last year I visited Cambodia which was a dream come true. Having played Tomb Raider as a teen I got to live out my fantasy of being the real Lara Croft while exploring the temples of Angkor Wat.
My partner and I recently set up a travel couples blog to document our travel destinations, tips and advice. It’s been a great way for me to channel my personal experiences into something positive. This experience will live with me forever but if I can help others by sharing my story then it’s been worth it.