When you have depression, even the most innocuous narratives that you face in day-to-day life can start to feel intimidating and isolating. And this is definitely true of the way that other people talk, think and write about travel. Seeing new places, experiencing new cultures and embarking on adventures outside of your comfort zone can sound wonderful in theory, but next to impossible in practice when the simple act of getting out of bed can feel like a journey in and of itself.
I spent years listening to my non-depressed friends and acquaintances wax rhapsodic about their travels while assuming that such things would always be beyond my own monetary and psychological means. Then I lucked into a junket in Las Vegas in 2011. It didn’t change my life, but that trip did manage to change my mind a little bit. I was just as depressed at the end of those four lavish days as I was at the start — and I didn’t manage to squeeze in quite as much as my mentally healthy counterparts — but I still enjoyed myself. I still got something out of the experience.
Since then, I’ve developed an interest in the art of traveling while depressed and how to make my desire to see the world outside of my bedroom enriching without draining or breaking me. I might not have the same kind of transformative experiences that other people have — or at least claim to have — when I’m away from home. But I’ve amassed some amusing and meaningful memories that have worked for who I am and where I’m at in life.
Every person experiences depression differently and the specific mindset and coping techniques that have helped me won’t necessarily help everyone. But I’ve come up with the following general tips for anyone with depression who is interested in traveling.