Sadness while traveling can seem almost criminal because I not only feel sad, but I feel guilty for feeling sad. I begin to believe that I’m spoiled, that I’m ruining a once-in-a-lifetime experience, that I’m unappreciative. But I’m not. I’m just a person with depression in a strange place. Following are tips to get rid off from such kind of sadness:
7 Tips for dealing with depression on the road
- If you use medication for your mental health, make sure to pack it. It should be the first thing that goes in your luggage. It can be hard to remember to take medication when you are doing something different everyday, so I keep mine with my toiletries. When I brush my teeth in the morning, I also take my pill. You could also keep it near your undies or put it in your shoes before you go to bed.
- Don’t be afraid to say no. When I travel, I have a tendency to push myself to do things because “I might never have the chance to do it again.” But if that thing is going to the bar with your travelling companions to try Bolivian beer, and you would rather stay at the hostel and read a book, it’s okay to stay at the hostel and read a book. (Bolivian beer sucks anyway.) Depression is an exhausting illness, and it is okay to rest.
- Forgive yourself. When you are in a new land with a new culture you will make mistakes. Maybe you’ll pass a dish to someone with your “unclean” hand or maybe you’ll address a kind grandma as “Senor” instead of “Senora.” Just take a deep breath. Apologize if the situation merits it, and then forget it. Everyone makes mistakes in new places. This does not make you “rude.” It does not make you “ignorant” or “ungrateful.” It simply makes you foreign.
- Write things down. Every traveler should keep a journal. Writing down what happens to you is the only way for the trip not to seem like a whirlwind years later. It’s especially important for a depressed person. Use the journal to record the day, but also to keep track of your moods. Have you had mostly “up” days? What were your triggers before a “down” day?
– Say no
– Forgive yourself
– Track your moods
– Reminder of home
– Emergency contacts
– Try things
- Bring a reminder of someone you love. When I travel I like to have something physical to remind me of my familiar, comfortable home. Usually, I bring a hard copy of a picture. I like to hold the picture of my family before I go to sleep. You might bring an old t-shirt or a scrap from a favorite blanket. Knowing that I have someone I love back home makes me remember that travelling is just temporary. These stresses won’t last, and neither will the positives of the trip. So just enjoy the experience.
- Make sure you have a way to contact home (or your doctor). Make sure you have money on your Skype account or a phone card, so you can contact your family, friends, or therapist, if you need help immediately.
- Open your eyes. Walk on new streets. Eat new food. Smell new smells. Look around and be amazed.