mental health and travel
I feel that a mental health blog should be addressing some of the difficulties of having a mental illness.
As my current health is very good, I thought I'd recount one of my many difficult days. I'm not going to write about a particularly dark one, I don't think that would be helpful for me. Having written a book about my entire journey I can accurately pick out a day from memory. Here goes.
The year is 2009 in February.
My brilliant grandad has passed away at 92, and I am to travel 30 miles out of my hometown for his funeral. It's hard for me to travel anywhere really, my anxiety inflates when I know that I can't go home immediately if the panic attack comes. After the 45 minute drive we arrive at the church, and although an underlying current of anxiety and fear stops me from relaxing, it was nice to see the family gathering outside of the church.
Doing that wasn't all that claustrophobic.
Then the service began, and my mum and I took our seats at the back of the church (so that I could leave easily if need be), alongside my anxieties and imagined telepathic abilities. Then as soon as the service began my telepathic anxieties proceeded to spread themselves upon the entire congregation, which was too much for me, so I left the service, and went for a walk.
The town of Egham is very nice, more of a village really.
I walked toward the pub - The Armstrong Gun, and popped in to see what was inside. It was empty so I went in and ordered a bottle of Bud and set up the balls at the pool table. After 15 minutes it was time to head back to the church, so I took a last mouthful of my beer, almost finishing it.
I've always been very lightweight with alcohol, and in 2009 I hadn't had more than a couple of beers in the last 7 or 8 years. Walking out of the pub I realised that I was a bit tipsy, which was embarrassing. A few steps later I decided that I was more than tipsy, which seemed improbable but there I was with all the symptoms.
This seemed ominous as I walked toward the church, where the service had finished and people were gathered around outside chatting.
So there I was drunk at my grandad's funeral.
I remember wishing I could be more like my brothers and cousins who were proactive in supporting the family. My mum knew I wasn't feeling well and she said there would be no reason not to go home if I wanted to, so we did. My brother drove with us and I went home, and they returned to the service to socialise.
I wanted to be able to socialise at will like normal people, and I was a little annoyed with my mental health problems making my life so difficult, but I did manage to leave the house and travel 60 miles and at least try, so I was a little bit proud of myself for that.
As time passes and I do more of this type of socialising, it becomes easier. A couple of years later and I can do this sort of thing without major problems, and now in present day I thoroughly enjoy being an active socialiser and traveller. I even flew on a few planes and travelled to Italy, Holland and Ireland in the last two years.
If mental health problems are making your life difficult, remember to keep trying and that things really do get easier.