Trigger Warning: Depression, Death and Grief
The thing I love most in the world is travelling and I have turned that passion into a travel blog to share my experiences as a solo female traveller. I also live with Anxiety and Depression, and both illnesses have affected some of my trips in small ways and huge ways. I have noticed in recent years that bloggers, writers and long-term travellers have been writing posts about After Trip Depression.
I know what their have described is true, that after a trip you can come home realising that you have changed and everyone at home is still the same or that you feel some emptiness when you go back to “real life”. I also think it’s not right to use an illness to describe something that might not be that illness
Firstly, depression is a lifelong Illness, but people with depression are not depressed all the time. I can be depressed for 6 months or a year and not get depressed again until it’s been 3,4 or 5 years.
Sane Australia describes depression by saying “It significantly affects the way someone feels, causing a persistent lowering of mood. Depression is often accompanied by a range of other physical and psychological symptoms that can interfere with the way a person is able to function in their everyday life.”
Depression can only be diagnosed by a health professional, its usually diagnosed when feelings such as feeling sad, worthless, under lots of stress and/or you have little to no energy have persisted for more than two weeks. It affects more than 300 million people all over the world, and its doesn’t discriminate it affects all ages, races, religions, genders and wealthy and poor people. It affects everyone differently so I want to share how it has affected me travel wise and why I don’t think we should be describing post trip feelings as depression.
In January 2014 I decided to spend some of the money I saved for my big trip around my home country, Australia for a practise trip to see if this is what I want to do. I was loving it and having a really great time I made loads of friends the were from all corners of the globe. I travelled from my hometown to Canberra then Sydney, I was living in the moment.
On one of the days, I was living so much In the moment that decided to book a tour with a tour company that I been on two tours previously its known for parties. I am not a party person, so I don’t know why I did this and it cost a lot of money for tour going to places that I already went to previously. The next morning, I woke up the realisation of what I did and the fact that I have to leave Sydney and my friends that made in 4 days’ time. The tour didn’t go well somewhere between Sydney and the Gold Coast I started getting depressed, I had gotten hardly no sleep for 9 days, and my anxiety levels were very high.
After that tour, I rushed back home because I wasn’t well I decided I needed to go to the doctors. My doctor informed me that I had a Mental breakdown and I was prescribed antidepressants and got a referral to a counsellor. I got the help I needed and started getting better, but it affected me for 14 months because I was on a high dose of medication more than I needed to be on. A few of the things that happen that year are
- For the first two weeks, I had to have someone with me at all times
- I slept most of the time, or I felt drained
- It took me an hour to read an article in my favourite travel magazine and sometimes I only had the energy to look at the pictures in the magazine
- I got a subscription to that travel magazine for my birthday the previously year, and it was one of the few things I got excited for
- I gained 15 kilos in 2 months
- I had not mood I was not happy, but I was not sad
- I couldn’t laugh or cry
- I went on a small trip, but I can’t remember much of it because of brain fog I spend a lot of time trying to make myself laugh
After 12 months the doctor and I decided that I no longer needed to have antidepressants and I slowly got weaned off them. I got a new job and started earning and saving money. I started smiling, laughing and enjoying life again. My passion for travel came back, and I started travel writing again and finished a travel writing course online. I was able to read travel articles and books again without it taking days to read a paragraph. I also went on some short trips around my state Victoria.
I decided that I was ready to go on a longer trip I wanted to go to the U.K because my friend that I made in Sydney lived near London and one of my Nans was from Scotland. I decided that June 2016 was the perfect time to go I was very excited to tell my Nan that I was finally going to go to Scotland and to listen to some more of her stories and hear about places that she thought I should go see.
Sadly 6 months before I got on the plane my Nan suddenly passed way a few weeks before Christmas. I was grief-stricken and I had what I later learnt was mild to moderate depression. Even though I had depression but didn’t actually realise it I still got on my flight and went to U.K because I was insistent and excited for my trip I also couldn’t wait to see my friend and meet his family. This trip became more to me as I was now going to remember my Nan and to learn more about the country she was born in.
I got terrible Jet lag, and I was fatigued which didn’t help my anxiety or my mood, but I put in place strategies that I learnt from going to a counsellor in 2014 in place. I went to my friend’s house a couple of days earlier because I needed to get out of London. I read some helpful travel blog posts, and I focus on doing one thing a day. I decided with the help of my family and friends to come home a little earlier, it was only a couple of days earlier, and it cost me a small fortune, but I was in a better place on that trip than the one that I had a mental breakdown on.
I got to my friend’s house I started sleeping normally, the jet lag mostly went away and I started really enjoying my trip, and then it was finally time to experience Scotland, and I loved it.
Once I got home, I told a few people about how I was feeling, and I was told by some of them that “it is the after-trip blues and you will be alright in a couple of weeks once you get back to work”. The thing is I was depressed before my trip even If I never said It and now I needed to get help. I went to a counselling service for young people to get the help that I needed, and I am now 6 months in remission of depression. I’m back interested in life, travelling and I am now ready to travel again, and this time I know, I will be alright.
I hope that people stop describing their feelings after a trip as depression because depression is a serious illness that affects lots of people’s lives. I do realise that those feelings can turn into depression and hope that travellers and other people feeling this way are able to get the help their need.
If you need someone to talk to
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Suicide & Depression Hotline – Covenant House
NDMDA Depression Hotline – Support Group
0845 766 0163
08444 775 774