Community//

Dealing with Depression Through Travel and Adventure

My journey lifting the fog of depression

‘Find joy in everything you do. Every job, relationship, home and life. It’s your responsibility to like it or change it.’

Sometime ago my life was hit by a series of challenging events which rocked both my fragile mental health and feelings of self-worth. A year full of stress, long working hours, financial anxiety and probably not enough personal outdoor time took its toll and suddenly I found myself being slowly swallowed up by bouts of anxiety, irrationality, sadness along with a constant feeling of being sucked into a vortex of negativity that revolved around switching between not wanting to get out of bed, not wanting to head outdoors and not wanting to see people. Most days, it felt like my brain was being swallowed by a pool of dark, thick quicksand that never allowed me to find solid footing or endlessly trying to clamber up some steep, gravelly slope to that feeling of being happy or finding that happy place. All of a sudden I didn’t recognise myself.

One particular day feeling completely overwhelmed by everything and with tears streaming down my cheeks I decided I had three options to consider. First was to get some support. Second was to take off, create some space and re re-energize my brain and third was the unthinkable one. I was struggling to cope but made the three simplest, easiest and best decisions I have had to make in my life;

  1.   I went a saw a doctor, started taking medication and talking to a counsellor
  2.   I went back to simple and started spending more time outdoors doing the things        that I loved like trail running, surfing and bushwalking.
  3.   I planned and booked and overseas trip

The only thing I really remember is the huge sense of relief I felt. Like the fog had lifted and cleared slightly allowing me some breathing space and a hint of daylight. Life became a routine of exercising, eating healthy meals, getting sleep, attending therapy sessions, playing outside, planning travel, packing gear and writing. It’s not that it took me a month to get organised to travel, but I took some advice and used that time to get life settled before heading off to travel.

I have travelled regularly since my early twenties and I can happily and easily say it really is something that I love. I love it because I feel beautiful, challenged, wild, free, adventurous, curious and energised all at once. This time, I just wanted some space, new environments and outdoor time with the aim being to kick-start myself back into life in a positive and happy way.

The next few months I travelled through a multitude of countries including Central America, Canada, Yukon and USA experiencing wild landscapes, beautiful scenery, incredible wildlife meeting some perfectly delightful people along the way. Rising each day became effortless as I hiked, ran, surfed, snorkelled, laughed, danced, and explore my way through each country gaining inspiration from the places I explored and the people I was lucky enough to meet. I felt energised by life, passionate about adventures, loved by who I met, confident in my own abilities, clear in my emotions, direct in my approach, curious about where I was, spell-bound by the scenery I saw and motivated about my plans beyond this trip. Sadness was replaced by a smile and tears were replaced with laughter. I relished in taking photos, writing stories, catching up with old friends and discovering new ones. I allowed life to be simple and allowed myself to feel happy.

Of course one can quite easily justify this happiness as I was travelling freely without a schedule, responsibilities, time limits and everyday stresses.

The wonderful thing that I have learnt about travel is it teaches you to cope with and manage stress in a different way. You worry less about the small, insignificant things and you naturally appreciate the positive things that surround you at the time; people, scenery, colour, smells and the simplicity brings much joy. I have learnt that life itself is pretty damn good and appreciation, gratefulness, happiness and love are all transferable into every other aspect of my life.

I am pretty certain that travel will always be a staple in my life and I like the excitement of planning a new adventure. I am sure that the financial, life and self-worth stresses will try to rear their ugly heads every now and again but most important is that now I am better equipped to manage these in a different and more positive way. I’m also an advocate of finding that happy place and for me its running trails and surfing the oceans so that’s where you’ll find me at some point each and every day.

Originally published at tinybeautifulplaces.com

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