Last month we looked at how Travel Is an important way to reflect and help adjust with moving home. Now my guest blogger Jason from Jason Likes to Travel shares with you how travel is helping him overcome his anxiety…
Firstly let me thank Elle for giving me the opportunity to share my story, mental health is something I think should be talked about more, so as soon as this chance presented itself I knew I wanted to get involved.
Growing up I’d always been quite a lonesome teen, I was shy and quiet and making friends has never come easy for me. After fairly uneventful teenage years I started working in a supermarket, building my confidence, making friends and from nowhere an unwanted companion appeared and started tagging along: anxiety.
Suddenly I had meaningful people in my life and relationships I wanted to hold on to and I became very conscious of that. My new work friends and I would start hanging out outside of work and I’d be overcome with sickness – with no idea why either. We’d hang out again and bam, sick again! Is that just coincidence?
I didn’t have the benefit of hindsight, I can see now I was suffering from anxiety but at the time it was becoming a worry. That’s anxiety at its worst isn’t it? The overthinking. I continued going in to social situations with the mindset of “please don’t be sick”.
Hope soon became acceptance. “If you’re going to be sick can we do it at noon because I’m meeting my friend at 1pm for lunch..”
I’d lost control, then it started happening outside of just social situations. Family get-togethers, job interviews, the first day of college, I couldn’t leave the house without the fear of being sick.
Roll on 2011 and I was off on a holiday with the “lads”. My first ever unsupervised holiday, of course I had mates along with me but it wasn’t the same as a family trip with the parents or a supervised school trip. I had nobody to fall back on if things went wrong.
The drinking started the night before our flight to Ibiza and half a pint in I was being sick. I knew it wasn’t alcohol induced but it didn’t stop taunts of being a lightweight. I hadn’t even flown yet, how was I going to survive a week away in Ibiza?
I did and I grew up a little bit on that trip, I’d turned the corner and sickboy slowly went away.
Around 12-18 months later I wanted another holiday and was getting the temptation to go to Sydney but I had nobody to go with. I dreamt of visiting Sydney but I was too scared to do it alone. I floated the idea with a few people who were encouraging me to go, I started considering it more and slowly but surely plans were coming together. I’d saved the money, I’d sorted the time off work and I’d told a handful of people who were patting me on the back for my bravery.
However to some extent I think I was the last one to know that I was going to Sydney. Nobody else had any reason to doubt that I’d go but I didn’t believe it myself. I overthought everything! We reached mid-January, I was supposed to be going to Sydney at the beginning of Feb and still hadn’t even booked it! I was some shy little nobody that didn’t know anything about anything, how could I possibly go to Sydney alone? I’ll wait for a friend or a future partner or a better time to go or..
“THAT’S NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN!!”
Theoretically it might have done but they were excuses. The only person stopping me going to Sydney was me and imagine that being a reason to never visit. No way! Telling myself it would never happen was enough motivation to book it.
“Wait, what have I done?” – I’d booked it. There was no going back now! Fortunately I’d left it so close to the trip that I didn’t have time to worry about it too much until departure day. I thought I’d be worse but still had some nerves, this was huge! This wasn’t Ibiza, I didn’t have anyone with me if things went wrong. I’d be a million miles away from home on my own! I half-expected to be sick at some point but I powered past the nerves and soon enough I was on my way.
I left England Saturday afternoon and arrived in Sydney Monday morning, pretty exhausted but I was actually here. My first day I didn’t really do much, I sadly slept straight through the hostel’s weekly pizza night but it hit me properly on Tuesday. I’d joined a walking tour and half way through there it was! The Sydney opera house gleaming! Pinch me, I’m actually here! I’d done it!
I spent the next two weeks in dreamland. Sydney lived up to every expectation and more. I’m not naïve, I’m not going to suggest travel will cure your mental health. If it was as simple as that then nobody would be struggling but it went a long way towards helping me with mine. I still struggle with anxiety, I still overthink more than I wish I would but realistically if I could travel all the way to Australia on my own, surely I can do anything?
I came back from that trip and I had the travel bug. Within two weeks I’d booked my second ever solo trip, only to Germany but still something I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing in the five years prior to Australia. As cliché as it sounds, it was a life-changing trip. Anxiety definitely still comes along for the ride of life on occasions but the physical aspects are something I haven’t suffered from since.
I’ve now been to more than 15 countries, many of them solo. Anxiety wins on some days but travel well and truly killed off “sickboy”.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. You can read more about my travels on my blog here. Alternatively you’ll find me over on Instagram and Twitter.
Thanks Jason for bravely sharing your experiences with us, I loved hearing how much travel is helping you overcome your anxiety. Please let us know in the comments if you have had a similar experience and make sure you click subscribe so you don’t miss Episode 3 of the ‘Travel Is’ series!