How travelling helps me with depression

Hi everyone,

The biggest obstacle in my life is dealing with mental health issues, particularly depression and anxiety. For me, getting stuck in the same daily routine for months and months is just a catalyst for another major depressive episode. I don’t talk about these issues lightly – they have been a reality for me for most of my life.

There’s something about travel that excites me in a way that nothing else does. Generally, I am a quiet, reserved person. I’m not outgoing, bubbly, enthusiastic or a people-person. For me, being in a new place is so freeing; I can be spontaneous, try an abundance of new things, and best of all be worry-free. I forget about ‘real life’ and enjoy each day.

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Watching the sun rise after arriving in Venice at dawn

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Watching the sun rise from the Great Wall of China

I have been on medication for 12 years and I still spend a lot of time feeling miserable. Normal life stresses make things difficult and can trigger a major depressive episode, but when I get stressed while travelling I cope a lot better. I’m not sure why this is – perhaps my attitude makes a difference. Maybe it’s just being somewhere different.

I love food and what’s better than trying as much new food as possible? Almost nothing. Pizza, espresso and gelato and Italy is an experience like no other and I could’ve stayed for months just being a glutton.

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My one true love – ice cream!

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Neapolitan (from Naples) pizza

Roman pizza or Neapolitan pizza? Why not both? I ate so much pizza in Italy and have no regrets.

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Want the best tiramisu in the world? Go to Pompi in Rome!

I also love to drink, and even though I’m not big on beer I drink lots of it on holiday because it’s cheaper than cocktails, and in Fiji, it’s cheaper than water!

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The pool bar at the Radisson Resort in Fiji

Drinking German beer at Oktoberfest 2015 was a lot of fun, but now beer is ruined for me. I struggle to drink New Zealand beer now, even the ones I used to like.

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Delicious beer at Oktoberfest 2015

Travelling to Egypt at 20 with a group of strangers was incredibly daunting for me. Everyone was from my university, but they were all the year above me, and they all knew each other. I struggle a lot in new social situations but managed to break the ice by talking about video games. Having something else in common with some of the other people on my trip, besides study, made a huge difference.

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Me by the Great Pyramid. Giza, Egypt.

Being so far away from home for the first time made me realise many things I didn’t like about my life, and what I wanted to change. I think this was the first time that I felt truly happy and free. Of course wanting to keep feeling that way has most definitely encouraged me to keep travelling. When life becomes too mundane, the first thing I do is start researching new places to travel.

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Nijojo (Nijo Castle – Kyoto) in autumn

Travelling with my close friends is another reason I really enjoy doing it. I first went to Japan with one of my friends who had gone on a school exchange a couple years before and we got to stay with her host family in Kyoto. Getting away from the stresses of university life and the mundanity of retail work made a huge difference in my views towards my life. The best parts were experiencing home-cooked Japanese food (Japanese food is one of my absolute favourite types of food!) and getting to stay with lovely people who treated us like family.

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In Rarotonga with my 4 best friends

Each time I travel I reflect on my current situation. Last year while in Europe, I decided it was time to leave my boring office job and study something new. I enrolled to study when I returned home but kept the job another eight months. I always get in a depressive slump after travelling, which doesn’t come across well at work. The other problem I had before I left for Europe was me stressing myself out about booking trains between countries, accommodation and far too many activities. It was obvious to the higher ups that I wasn’t in the best mood because I couldn’t get my mind off the trip. For me, the jobs I’ve had are just something I do to pay the bills and save for travel, not something I want to do for a long period of time. What I want to do is spend my life travelling, obviously!

As a classics graduate, being able to experience many of the places I’ve studied is so incredibly satisfying. As impractical as it is to have studied ancient Greek, Latin and Egyptian hieroglyphics, it’s just so much fun to see everything in person. It’s the only way I’m going to ever use my degree so I may as well make the most of it when I’m overseas, right?

Trying new food and drink, experiencing new places, seeing monuments that have endured for hundreds or thousands of years really makes me feel alive. It makes life feel worth living.

My goal is to travel at least once per year, ideally somewhere new each time, although there are plenty of places I would go back to in a heartbeat. I want to go everywhere and see everything because that’s what makes me happy and fulfilled.

Thanks for reading!

Header image: Matt and I at the top of Mt Vesuvius
All opinions and images are my own.
This post contains no affiliate links.

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2 thoughts on “How travelling helps me with depression

  1. I love that you are able to find something to help you deal with your mental problems. I have a lot of medical problems and though traveling doesn’t help really with the physical side of things, it does a heck of a lot for the mentality of dealing with said problems. So I definitely get this post, especially this part: ‘…seeing monuments that have endured for hundreds or thousands of years really makes me feel alive. It makes life feel worth living.’ After all, what’s the point of living if you don’t really love?

    And out of curiosity, how was beer ruined for you if you enjoyed Oktoberfest? (:

    Like

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