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?

Reposting – after 12 years of work

I have decided this cancellation from my therapist (see below) was all for the best. Rather than panic about not having a therapy visit for 8 weeks, I was able to talk myself through a period of not having a regular session with my therapist. When we did get in touch I learned s/he had a very painful illness but was not at a serious risk level. I feel proud of myself, if I can say so, about managing through this period. It has made me realize that in the 12 years of working with my therapist I have grown into a person who can handle a temporary lapse in therapy time if that occurs and/or as it occurs.

Here is the original post from a week or two ago:

After 12 years of work with my therapist with no interruptions and no cancellations, I got a call today cancelling/postponing our session for this month. In all the 12 years of work, my therapist has never missed or changed an appointment.

Funny how you rely on someone being there and expect there to be no gaps. Rationally, I know at some point people do get sick and have to call in sick, but it worries me when my therapist does/did this.

I guess you could say I am confronting my dependency on her. Should I have a back-up plan for when she is ill? She is into her 70’s as is my psyche doctor. Should I be thinking about someone younger just because?

When I got the news today about the cancellation I got somewhat anxious, so I called my psyche doctor and shared the news. We agreed I would go up on my meds if things felt too stressful.

Just out of curiosity, what do you do if your therapist is sick and cannot make a session? Does it stress you out? Do you move to Plan B? What is your Plan B?