Does Mental Illness Keep You from Enjoying Travel?

My first break was at the site of a small airport, so airport travel is always somewhat of a stressor as I tend to relive that trauma from time to time. (I was handcuffed and taken to the police station at this break because the authorities thought I was trying to bomb the plane….)

Regardless of or in addition to this airport-induced trauma, I still have major issues with traveling today. Here is a quick list of my mental health impacts to travel:

  1. I don’t change time zones easily so travel abroad or to the West Coast is particularly difficult.
  2. I have high anxiety about leaving the house and consistently think I have done something like leave the water running or the refrigerator open. I often will have to ask a friend to “check” on things at the house for me when we are traveling.
  3. I don’t do well when it comes to changes to routines. I am very much a creature of habit. Travel changes that. When traveling I tend to have to wake up earlier than usual and eat dinner later than usual. This change is very stressful for me.
  4. The enhanced contact with family members is enjoyable but also stressful. It is more difficult for me to be in a party of 12 to 15 than a party of 3 to 5 which is usual at my house.
  5. My reflexes and response time are not that great, so when we drive my husband does most if not all the driving. This is very stressful for him.
  6. During airport travel, I tend to get overly anxious with the loudspeaker announcements and lack of windows. The loudspeaker is somehow a trigger for me. Oddly, once I am in the plane I am fine. No worries mid-flight per say. My worries are in the airport itself.
  7. Over the years my hippocampus has been damaged by too much accelerated thoughts. This makes logistics while traveling difficult. I am not always great with a map or a GPS. I can easily get confused while making travel plans and following routes on the map or GPS.
  8. I am a checker. Even if staying with family, I tend to need to check things before leaving the house. My extended family has somewhat gotten used to this but it is still annoying.
  9. Back to the hippocampus: things like finding parking or locating the car when parked are difficult things for me to do. I have to make a mental note or a physical note as to what level in the parking lot we are in and where the parking space is relevant to the elevators.
  10. It takes everything I’ve got to go on a trip and not get really, really anxious. I tend to need more or much more downtime to function. People we are visiting generally do not.
  11. Before going on a trip I need to be sure my meds will cover me for the duration of the trip. Sometimes I have to use GoodRX coupons instead of insurance since my insurance company does not issue vacation overrides.
  12. I also tend to worry that the dog is OK while boarding. She has come back with kennel cough with one boarding.

All of this adds up to loads of stress while traveling. What if anything stresses you out while traveling? Or do you enjoy traveling locally or abroad?

7 thoughts on “Does Mental Illness Keep You from Enjoying Travel?

  1. I used to love travelling, and I would do a big international trip every year. Depression made me lose interest entirely. The last trip I did was to Italy in 1018, and I was seeing all these amazing things that I’d always wanted to see, and I just felt “meh” about it all.

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    1. I remember your saying from a prior post that you used to enjoy traveling and recently not so much so. So it sounds like for you the change is not anxiety related as it is for me but depression related. I am sorry for that and hope there’s some sort of reversal about travel coming up for you? If not a travel reversal, then an introduction of something else in your life like the piggos that you feel strongly about….:) I have just been reading a post that talks about pets decreasing depression and helping with mental health?

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      1. I think the piggoos definitely help, but like anything else, only to a certain point.

        Anxiety generally wasn’t an issue for me with travelling. I think that’s a combination of not being prone to anxiety in the first place, plus i started young and did it a lot, so I was pretty confident in my ability to handle whatever issues might come up.

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  2. I have seen contradictory information about whether the hippocampus can be repopulated with new neurons / neurogenesis. It seems like the verdict is still out. If there is truth to it, it would mean that people with debilitating depression and anxiety might be able to recover that part of the brain that deals with general well-being and have symptoms reduce. I have been informally watching these developments for a few years. I am hopeful for finding something that says mental illness can reduce somewhat as you age rather than be on a steady decline with aging.

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  3. My biggest stressor when traveling is trying to keep up with my husband! Sometimes I need to rest at weird times, and I feel like I’m holding him back. If I could get past that I’d be ok!

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  4. It’s hard to visit the sites of things that hurt us. Don’t be negative with yourself about that.
    My anxiety makes travel a challenge as well. Worry about home, worry about stuff, it’s not my space. Grrr. The broken hippocampus is a pain. Once suggestion given to me that helps some is taking pictures with my phone. Of the water off. Of the hair straghtener away. The door locked. Where I parked the car. It helps.

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