Before I start, I just want to clear up a few things:
1) I am in no way saying that travelling will help everyone who suffers from depression.
2) I am not a mental health expert, I’m just sharing my own experiences, with the hope that it will help someone get the help that they need.
3) If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, please seek help now!!!
UK suicide line | US suicide line | International suicide lines
So now that we’ve cleared that up, here is my story:
Throughout the whole of 2017, I found myself going in and out of depression.
You can literally follow my struggles with depression by looking at my blog. All the times I was posting every week, I was out of depression and all the times I was posting once a month (if that!), I was struggling.
Ironically, 2017 was without a doubt one of the best years of my life so far.
If you followed my journey as I worked towards my goal of travelling to 25 countries before I turned 25, then you probably thought I was out here living my best life.
And yes, I was. To an extent.
I’ve always tried to keep it real with you guys.
Nothing is all flowers and roses, everything has it’s negatives. Yes, travelling can be amazing, but even travelling has a dark side.
That’s why I discuss issues such as racism and discrimination while travelling, on both my blog and my vlog (subscribe to my YouTube channel).
Last July, I created a blog post in which I planned to share my experience of depression with y’all. I never got further than the intro and today, that post remains in my drafts.
A few weeks ago, I decided to start a new blog post about my depression story and I’m so glad that I have finally been able to open up about my experience. Not only is writing this blog post quite therapeutic but if by sharing my story, I can help even one person who is going through depression feel like they are not alone, then it is worth it.
I love that today more people are talking about depression and taking it more seriously, but there is still a lot more work to be done (especially in black communities).
Depression is not something to be taken lightly.
It can be a very dark and lonely place.
You may be surrounded by loving and supportive family and friends, but you can still feel alone.
And that’s how I felt. Alone.
I was consumed in negativity – negative thoughts, negative emotions, just a whole load of negativity.
I found that I was constantly sad, but I had no idea why I felt that way. I would find myself bursting into tears for no reason at all.
The only thing I found myself wanting to do, was to sleep or read, both forms of escapism.
Through sleeping, I could completely disconnect from the world and reach oblivion. There was no negativity. No worries. And no sadness. I could literally sleep all day and all night, and I did exactly that on many occasions.
Reading has always been a form of escape for me. It’s a way to live another life. A way to experience that happily ever after that we all crave so much.
If I wasn’t sleeping or reading, I was at work.
To be able to travel as much as I wanted, I’ve been working casually as a waitress and bartender. The perks of the job have been quite cool. For example, I’ve been able to work at amazing venues and events, meet celebrities, eat amazing food and I’m able to work and travel whenever I want.
There are also many negatives. The main one being, the way that some managers and customers feel that they can treat waitresses and waiters.
My depression showed me how bad a job can be for your mental wellbeing. Being in such a fragile state and then having to come into contact with people who can be extremely rude, really got to me.
I can’t even count the number of times I cried at work. Just remembering the many times that I would have to serve customers while trying to avoid eye contact as I had tears in my eyes, makes me cringe.
That’s why it’s so important that we are conscious of how we talk to and treat others. You don’t know what they are going through and you may underestimate the power that your words and actions can have to either turn someone’s day around for the better or to push them over the edge.
There are so many times when a random stranger would say or do something nice and although it was such a small action, it would make me feel 100 times better for the whole day. Other times, someone would say something hurtful or rude (that wouldn’t have bothered me as much when I was out of depression) and I would still be upset weeks if not months later.
Depression made me very emotional, but also numb to the point that I lost the passion and love that I had for my blog and Youtube channel, both of which got seriously neglected.
I had so many plans for both and it’s upsetting to look at both, knowing that I would’ve been a lot closer to my goals if my depression hadn’t gotten in the way. But then I have to remind myself, that thoughts like these are not productive. After all, I cannot change the past, but I have the power to shape my future.
During my depression, the only passion that seemed to remain was my love for travelling.
Travelling and my goal to reach 25 countries before 25 was the only thing that kept me going. I guess you could say that travelling was another form of escapism, whether it was healthier than reading or sleeping is up for debate.
However, if it wasn’t for my goal, I don’t think anything could have forced me out bed every morning to face another day at work. I probably would’ve stopped working and just wallowed in my bed as the year passed me by.
When I was travelling last year, I felt that those were the few times that I felt like myself again. I wasn’t consumed with sadness and I felt an amazing sense of freedom.
Sometimes, I would use my time away to think about my life and what I needed to do to get to where I wanted to be. And other times, I would think about nothing and just bask in the happiness that I felt from travelling and experiencing a different culture.
I’m so glad that I started solo travelling last year because it meant that I could put my own needs and wants first. Which I feel was very important for my mental wellbeing. Plus sometimes you just need to get away from the hustle and bustle of life and to embrace that silence that you can only experience on a solo trip.
The only time that I can remember that my depression affected my travels, was in Bucharest.
For my solo trip to Bucharest, I asked you guys to set me a few tasks to complete during my trip. These tasks were intended to force me out of my comfort zone (read about this experience). The tasks included going to a club, taking pictures with strangers and talking to locals.
Please note that I am extremely shy and my social skills are pretty much non-existent, so I found the tasks that were set very difficult.
It probably wasn’t the greatest idea to do something like this when I was feeling depressed (although at that point I hadn’t yet admitted to myself that I was depressed).
I really struggled and I left Bucharest having not completed all of the tasks that were set. Which left me feeling like s***, to be honest.
My self-talk during that trip was probably the most disgusting ever…
That was the only time last year that I returned from a trip, feeling more depressed.
That’s not to say that the other times I travelled “cured” me of my depression or anything, they were just breaks from the sadness and even when I was alone on my solo trips, I never felt lonely.
For the first half of the year (and the end of 2016), I brushed off my feelings of sadness and blamed it on it being that time of the month or some kind of hormone imbalance. I think I subconsciously knew that I was depressed, but I wasn’t ready to admit it to myself.
It was only when I was finally able to admit to myself that I was depressed and that I started to talk about it, that I saw the light at the end of the tunnel.
Coming to the realisation that I was depressed (and that this wasn’t the first time), somehow seemed to be what I needed to kickstart my journey on the road to being back to me and not this shadow of a person that depression had created.
I wouldn’t say that I’m there just yet. There have been quite a few occasions where I’ve found myself on the edge of going back into depression.
Depression is a very dark and lonely place that I never want to find myself in ever again. So when I feel like I’m falling back into the negative place, it is scary AF.
This year, I have made my mental wellbeing a priority.
I’m working on identifying my triggers and putting together a self-care routine that keeps me in a positive place.
Shoutout to my family, friends, blog and vlog followers and random strangers, who’ve knowingly or unknowingly helped me during a difficult time! 💖
Thank you for reading my story.
For those of you who haven’t experienced depression before, I hope this post gave you a little insight into what it feels like to go through depression, so you are able to notice it in a friend or family member and give them the support that they need.
For those of you who are going through depression or previously have, I hope this post let you know that you are not alone. There is help out there, please do ask for help if you need it. You don’t have to suffer alone.
I will be sharing my tips on how I prevent myself from falling back into depression in a future post, so please stay tuned.