I’m sitting on the coach travelling to London. It’s a 3 hour journey because the M4 is closed and I’m not going to lie, I’m both absolutely shattered and also very bored at the same time. Travel does that to you doesn’t it, it’s like every uncomfortable emotion gets crammed into your body telling you to escape yet you’re stuck until you can finally get off.
Travelling is incredibly difficult when you live with a mental illness, you have the original difficulty of travelling plus all then complications that get added when you have to carry all manner of medications, have a different sleeping schedule and have emotions coming out the wazoo.
For me, even before I developed Bpd and bipolar disorder, travel has always been something that has triggered my anxiety. I can generally cope with the actual journey, it’s everything involved with preparing for travel that I find particularly stressful. We each have thing that are triggers for us; and for as long as I can remember airport security has been one of mine.
I can remember being a small child meticulously examining my clothes for metal, making sure the outfit that I had selected ( probably a number of days in advance) definitely had no metal that could trigger the security scanner. I had anxiety about airport security way before I even knew what anxiety was. I don’t even know why. I knew that I wasn’t doing anything bad, and therefore there was no reason to be scared…logically.
I hate that word…logic means nothing when your heart is pounding, your palms are sweating and you are shaking.
It’s the first time that I can remember being paranoid, believing that something was going to secretly appear in my bag and they were going to think that I was trying to smuggle something dangerous onto the plane. The biggest thing was feeling terrified of being in trouble (another trigger of mine) I always thought that they were going to tell me off Orr shout at me. The anxiety never even thought about prison or being told I couldn’t travel which shows how irrational the fear was.
Now that I have to travel with medication I get convinced that they are going to think that I am a drug dealer, although it’s ridiculous, it is a reality that those of us who take regular medication know all too well. Although I know that I am not only allowed my medication, but also absolutely need them, I am terrified that people are going to tell me that I can’t have it with me… what would I do then?
I’m not claustrophobic but sitting here on the coach I am starting to imagine what it might be like to be claustrophobic. My hands re both hot and cold, I don’t want to be here anymore. I’m struggling, I’m tired and groggy from my medication and trying hard not to just get up on the coach and scream. I don’t like not being able to pace or change what I’m doing, I’m distracting myself by writing, but that will only help for so long…
Packing is another thing that I find stressful about travelling. I’m someone who needs to be prepared for every eventuality, this is difficult when you have a mood disorder (or a personality disorder for that matter) that makes life utterly unpredictable. I can often be found with inappropriately sized luggage just because I have packed 500 things that I don’t need just to makes sure that I am prepared.
My most recent holiday I had all manner of spares and items that I ended up not to need. Many items from my self care box had found their way into my bag and my luggage was spilling out into my car. Although perhaps my approach is a little excessive, its not unreasonable. It’s important to be prepared when you live with mental illness because you really don’t know what’s going to happen.
Travel is hard, but just because you live with a mental illness doesn’t mean you shouldn’t or can’t do it. Maybe it requires a little extra planning, but it can be so worth it. Holidays and travelling can be difficult but it can also be so beneficial for your mental health.