Why could travel be the depression cure? This is the first time that I have ever publicly admitted that I’ve suffered from depression. Congratulations to me, I’m one of the apparent 1 in 5 Australians that have suffered from the black dog. It probably first started in high school, aged 13, and sporadically continued to rear its ugly head right up until my mid twentys. But now, I reckon, I’ve pretty much cured it. Mostly thanks to traveling. 3 amazing, wonderful, glorious years of traveling.
I’m now onto my second passport because Australia, Malaysia, United States of America, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, Qatar & Bahrain stamps and visas have fully adorned my hallowed travel document.
19 countries. Countless memories. A spirited back catalog of treasured moments. Moments that spontaneously reminisce in indiscriminate random flashes, startling me with unanticipated feelings of joy I’d once experienced. Remember that time when?… I was at a beach somewhere. I was making my way through the jungle. I was navigating my way through the metro. We were riding on the rooftop of that bus in Nepal… The inevitable We in traveling. So many travel buddies I can recollect a moment with, multiplying that joyous feeling.
But the one thing that has had the most effect on curing my depression is the development of my ability to be resilient. Traveling is really not easy at times. It tests you. You can’t just lay down and not face up to a difficult situation. You have to overcome whatever challenge has come your way regardless of your mental state.
It’s fundamentally impossible to cultivate your resilience if you’re not being tested. You’re at absolute level zero resilience in a depressed state. Unable to even get out of bed at times. If you’re traveling, you don’t really get that chance to get stuck. You have to get up. You have to face the world. If there’s an ultimatum you need to face, you can’t do it lying down.
Traveling has also made me more adept at identifying when I am beginning to lie down, when the depression warning lights are flashing. Usually an extended period of under stimulation will start to take its toll. My trick now is not to let it accumulate. Go and do something. Anything. Just don’t stay still for too long. Going to do something is infinitely easier when you’re in an unfamiliar surrounding, an unfamiliarity brought to you by your traveling ways.
If I feel I’ve been in some place too long and I feel i’m starting to slip, I have a special t-shirt I wear. On it, it says;
And I do.
**This post was published with written consent from Tim Gardner who originally wrote this article without the title "Why Could Travel Be The Depression Cure?". A link to his website and original article is here. Thank you Tim for the permission and good luck on your travels and future endeavors.