I have suffered from mental health issues for years and it is something that has affected all areas of my life including work, friends, family, and travel. I love traveling and I would say that it helps my state of mind more than it hinders it, but there are days where you feel depressed and there isn’t anything you can do to “snap out of it” even if you’re in the most beautiful places in the world.
The example I’m talking about today is my recent holiday to Croatia which you may have read about in my post talking about my best days out. The parts that I didn’t talk about in that post were the times where I found my mental health difficulties were too affecting me too much.
Only a couple of days before we set off for Croatia, my doctor increased my dose of antidepressants which had some tough side effects affecting my sleep and heightening my anxiety. The night before our flight I had really severe back pain and I start shaking and shivering. I’m not sure what that was, but I did read some mental health forums where they talked about Citalopram causing cold spells and shivers as a side effect.
I worried the whole of the following day that I would face the same effects in the evening in Croatia when we would still be on the plane or in the taxi. I couldn’t sleep on the flight and then we had an hour in a taxi to take us to our apartment. Our apartment host texted me to tell me that she had left our keys in a plant pot in the restaurant garden next door. I had so many worst-case scenarios running through my head of having no place to sleep tonight or maybe someone has already broken into our apartment. I followed the entire taxi ride on google maps just in case the driver was going to take us somewhere else and murder us. I felt like I could have had a panic attack any second during the entire journey. Obviously, it was all fine and we got into our apartment for the night.
I struggled to go to sleep that night, despite being exhausted, but I woke up feeling good. I was excited about the Hvar trip and I felt confident wearing my favourite bikini. Besides the last minute rush of nearly missing the ferry and being very sleep deprived, I felt great. Our tour was wonderful, especially the part where we got a chance to swim in the sea in a beautiful bay!
When we got to Palmizana, I felt rough. We had been on a boat with our group for a long time and I started to get anxious about silly things and feeling self-conscious about the people around me. My phone was running low on charge so I didn’t want to use it for distraction and face it running out completely. We changed out of our wet swimming clothes and ordered some cocktails. It was around this time that I started getting intrusive thoughts again. By the time we were laying on the sun loungers and Abbie was asleep, I had to lay there alone with my thoughts and I just started to cry. I worried about work, university, the future and everything I was running away from at home. I had calmed myself down by the time we got the speedboat back and enjoyed a lovely dinner.
The next day, I was fine all day. I didn’t feel stressed at all, I was happy and although physically I was struggling with the hike, it was definitely a positive experience. I felt okay until the journey home. I was texting my mum and I asked her how our family cat is because she had been ill. Mum had to break the news to me that she is getting worse and it’s looking like she might have to get put down before I get home. I was hysterically crying on the bus with everyone around me asleep and it was horrible. I had a conversation with my mum that evening and I came to terms with it, as we had been preparing for this for a while. I wouldn’t want Susie to have suffered, but her death did make it a difficult time for me.
For the rest of the holiday, I strangely felt more positive. The evenings were still difficult because my sleep was restless and my thoughts were still unsettling. But I think that during my time in Dubrovnik, I was able to manage my depression a lot easier than before. Being away from home made me feel at ease and I loved meeting different travelers, seeing beautiful sights and spending way too long having Instagram photoshoots at every location.
I was very upset to go home on the last day and I was especially emotional about coming back to the house without a cat being there to greet me, but my mental state was better. I needed that break from work for my own sanity, but unfortunately, it was this break from work that ended up resulting in me not being able to go back. Instead of catching up on my mountain of paperwork in the holidays as normal, I left it to avoid stressing out. I returned to work feeling refreshed and happy, but I was met with pressure from deadlines and misery. This break was what I needed the most to relieve my stress, but ultimately, it lead me to the mental breakdown that caused me to be signed off from work.
While I was in Dubrovnik, I jumped off a cliff and it was the most memorable experience of the holiday for me. Having the courage to climb up the cliff with a lot of help from kind American tourists and the encouragement I got from everyone around me just made me so happy. The adrenaline I got from leaping off the top felt so amazing. The cuts on my knees from my clumsy climbing were totally worth it. I stayed on that high for the rest of the holiday and I started making all these plans for when I came home. I wanted new tattoos and started to plan my world travels and I wanted to have lots of fun experiences to live my life to the full. I just had this sudden wave of inspiration and it felt great! Unfortunately, it didn’t last for very long. I returned to work a few days later and I was miserable again. But it was this wave of inspiration that I had from the cliff jump that helped me make all of the tough decisions I’ve made in the last few months and I feel much happier now.