This is a guest post by Cara from https://caras-corner.com/. It was not written by me. It is a post of travel tips for those battling with their mental illness.
I love travelling – seeing the world has completely opened my eyes to so many amazing places and different experiences. I have travelled with my friends, with my boyfriend, and by myself, all of which come with their own differences.
Despite my love of travelling, I also have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and had an eating disorder for many years. Although this hasn’t stopped me from exploring, it has meant that I’ve had to find ways to manage to manage my mental health when I’m away from home.
I pack everything I would usually use to manage my mental health when I am at home. This includes my phone and a charger so I can always communicate with people if I need to, all of my medication and anything that I find comforting or reassuring – usually a little pink stuffed rabbit I’ve had for a few years now. She’s been all over the world! Handy tip – I always take my medication in my hand luggage in case anything happens to my hold luggage and it ends up going missing for any reason. It’s rare but unfortunately it does happen.
I loathe getting travel insurance – my mental health sends my premium through the roof compared to other peoples’, but I know ultimately that I want to be covered if anything does go wrong. The right level of cover is key and it reduces the anxiety of not being covered for everything.
Read up about where you are going. How hot is it? How do you say hello and goodbye? What do they eat? What are the do’s and don’ts of the culture? I am pretty flexible when I’m away generally but I still make sure I have a lose itinerary so I have a plan to follow. A bit of structure makes me feel a lot less anxious before and during my travels.
I am terrible at being honest about my mental health, but I am getting better. I have historically always wanted to keep up with my friends and do everything I feel like I am ‘supposed to do’ on a holiday. But sometimes trying to soak up every opportunity is exhausting and it’s okay to say now. On my most recent holiday with my friends to Ibiza, I went to bed earlier than them every night and left a party by myself to come home. I was honest with them and with myself – I had reached my limit and I needed to leave. It’s important to know your limits and this actually ended up making my holiday a lot better, because I felt happier and more relaxed.
Taking Care of Yourself:
Going abroad can sometimes feel like a green light for lots of alcohol, lots of unhealthy food and not sleeping. Holidays are for having fun and it’s okay to let loose and enjoy yourself, but ultimately your mind and body might end up feeling a little worse for wear. I admit that I do this too, but I have got better over the years at reigning it in a little and I’ve felt a lot better for it. It’s worth remembering that your mind and body are the same as the ones you have at home, and they still need taking care of in the same way. They will thank you for not neglecting your self care.
Be Kind to Yourself:
If you do struggle with your mental health, it’s worth thinking about the fact that realistically, it might impact your time away at some point. It’s not a choice to have a mental health problem and that means that as much as we can try to take care of ourselves, it can still show up at any time. Don’t beat yourself up about this if you do start to find things difficult – it’s not your fault. A bad day is just that – a day. It doesn’t have to impact the whole rest of your holiday. Every day you are travelling is new opportunity to eat and drink new things, soak up the culture, see new sights and make new friends. Sometimes it’s just about taking each day as it comes and being gentle with yourself.
Finally, have a wonderful time! Take lots of photographs, keep a journal, update your social media, make a scrapbook. Whatever you need to do to make sure you have the memories of a life time, do it. You won’t regret having something to look back on in years to come
In the last two years I’ve been to the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Germany, France, Hungary, Scotland, Ireland and Spain. I also have a mental illness. It is totally possible to still see the world if you struggle with your mental health, and I truly believe that exploring is good for my health and for my soul.
I hope that if you are worried about travelling with mental health problems, that you can see that it is totally possible with a little bit of planning and a lot of self care.