I have loads of blog ideas pending, from city reviews to wild camping tips and from budgeting to travelling with a dog. But while I’m staring at my to-do lists and my writing plans, I’m feeling overwhelmed.
Today is my first day off since I left Berlin, as I’ve been working remotely for The Brussels Times while travelling towards Budapest. And while I had big plans and great ideas, it’s all starting to crumble a bit.
I’m going to Albania, or at least, that was the plan. From Budapest, I would travel south through Serbia and Kosovo till I would reach North Macedonia, from where I would hop on a bus to Albania and travel all the way up again.
But the trains from Budapest to Serbia are non-existent due to engineering works that have started years ago and don’t have an end date in sight. As I looked up other routes to get there, like through Croatia and Bosnia, I found out trains aren’t riding there either due to conflict between the two countries.
Meanwhile I’m in an Airbnb where the air-conditioning doesn’t work, melting away throughout a heatwave with temperatures as high as 41 degrees, figuring out whether the spots on my face and arms are bugs, allergies or weird insect bites.
Travelling comes with downers, it’s only natural. Constantly changing your surroundings, living out of a backpack, learning to navigate new countries and strange languages, while keeping your crackhead dog under control is a lot.
Although I absolutely love travelling solo, moments like these are when it gets hard. Because while I get energy from travelling, seeing new places and meeting new people, being away from where I live doesn’t mean I left bipolar at home, too.
And even if you are not mentally ill, taking a train to another country isn’t going to make the issues on your mind evaporate. Just like you take your ability to be happy, your fears and anxieties will also be there.
My happiness is definitely more intense when I experience it abroad, as I appreciate exploring a different environment, meeting interesting people and trying new foods. When you feel good, you are young and adventurous, making memories you will never forget.
But hard times are also infinitely harder.
Because when you feel alone, you’re just a stranger in Budapest - there is no friend’s shoulder to lean on or a place to go that makes you feel safe. And when you go through depression, there isn’t anyone who understands your phases or knows how to help you get out of them.
Thankfully I have my friends at home, who demand me to send them my location while I’m wild camping, and my family, who checks in once every while to see where I’m at and if I’m still alive.
In all honesty, I would never give up on travelling because it gets inconvenient at times. We were given one life on this planet and there is nothing I want more than to see as much of it as possible, especially now that we’re burning it to the ground.
But it’s something to deal with and something to keep in mind, as we post our holiday highlights on social media and tell the people at home how great everything is. While travelling is absolute bliss, it can also be pretty shit; especially with mental illness.
As for my trip, I know I'll figure something out. Wherever I end up, it's all part of the adventure.
Disclaimer for my mentally ill mates/anyone anxious about travelling (alone): book the ticket, hop on the train. I’ll be the last one to tell you travelling (with mental illness) isn’t a great idea. Just keep in mind that you need to be mindful, more than usual.
Make sure you bring enough of your medication if needed, plan moments of rest throughout your trip, and stay in touch with your loved ones. Travelling is always one hell of a ride and even more so when you struggle with your mind, but it is absolutely worth living for.
We've already faced way bigger demons.