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Have Mental Illness, Will Travel
By: Hollyn Donovan

24hrcancelTraveling can be stressful no matter what the circumstances. When you add an eating disorder, depression, and/or anxiety into the mix, traveling becomes all the more challenging.

Personally, my anxiety begins long before I arrive at the airport. I worry beforehand about all the people I’ll be encountering, how I’ll be rushing to get to the airport on time, how clogged airport security will be, etc. Once I arrive at the airport, I have to check luggage, go through my (highly despised) airport security checkpoint, and find my terminal. Then, there is always the normal wait for the plane to arrive, plus any flight delays. Also, while in the airport, I must confront my eating disorder while I search for and eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner while waiting to board the flight.

Once I arrive at my destination, I get my baggage at baggage claim, and either get a taxi or my family rents a car to get us to our hotel, which entails even more anxiety-provoking waiting, though at this point, my adrenaline and excitement helps calm my anxiety.

Throughout the vacation, I deal with my eating disorder at mealtimes, my anxiety around other people and new experiences, and my depression when I get homesick or when the nighttime blues hit like they tend to no matter where I am.

In order to combat my ED thoughts, I try to enjoy the opportunity to eat foods that are available at my International Food Festivaldestination that might not be as readily available at home. I also try to pay more attention to my surroundings and use my environment to distract me from my anxiety about food and my body. I use the same technique to help with my social anxiety. I’ll pay more attention to the surrounding scenery and to my family than to the strangers around me. When my depression hits, it’s usually at night, which is good because I’m usually able to be in my hotel room listening to music and browsing the Internet. I’m also able to text my friends for support and sit on the bed and mentally process my emotions. Keeping connected to friends back home while on vacation is always a huge help to me because it reminds me that, no matter how many miles away I am, my friends still care and will always try to help me if they can.

No matter what my mental illnesses are trying to tell me, I still do my best to enjoy my vacation and to have fun with my family. I do everything I can to help myself stay present in the moment and cope appropriately with any emotions or urges that might come up. I remind myself that emotions and urges are temporary and that I will make it through whatever I’m feeling at the time.

Vacations are a wonderful time to get away from home and have some fun, no matter how far or close your destination may be.

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 Stay Strong & love yourself!

 My name is Hollyn and this is Where I Stand.