Today I wanted to talk about something a little atypical when it comes to holiday posts…
As you will all know, I absolutely love to write a travel diary. I love snapping away at everything (food, scenery, a man cutting a watermelon at the side of the road…).
I am hugely incentivised by my blog, and my friends, to go out and do things. Blogging has furnished me with such a lovely drive to get up and go and see things, as well as keep a lasting memory of them, – especially as I get to share them with so many people now too.
I am incredibly fortunate that I have the means and funds to travel, I really do know that and I also know that I am just as fortunate to have people who want to travel with me!
You can see from my posts that my time in Spain was nothing short of magical; beautiful sunsets, lovely meals, day trips all over Spain…
I have such massive admiration for people who blog about their Mental Health (MH). I think it’s incredibly uplifting for people like me to read and feel like there are other people out there who understand. For me personally, I’ve never really wished to delve into my personal MH too much on here, I might tweet when I’m having the odd day off, but mostly I keep it to myself… That said, I’ve been so touched by all the lovely comments on my holiday posts, that it would feel a little disingenuous to you all to perpetuate how perfect it all was, and also, because I think there’s a valuable lesson to be learned from it which I hope might help one of you lovely readers…
My anxiety both before and during my trip was probably the worst it’s been since 2015 when I was signed off work for a couple of months because I could barely leave the house; I deleted all social media and spoke to pretty much no one except my Mum and a councillor.
I’ve just started a job which is both a step-up and a whole new industry, I had (have, actually) loads of personal things I’m working through and if I’m being honest, it’s been an exceptionally tough few months for about a million and one reasons – most of which I haven’t told a soul about.
Ultimately, I left the UK feeling really, really sad and as lovely as it was being with my best friends, anxiety just has this little habit of making you feel completely and utterly alone – even if you’re positively surrounded by people. Even people you love! And it will then take that opportunity into confusing you and making you want to be alone, too.
By the time we reached Spain, I just felt positively an outsider – not myself, and super low. For the most part, I went along with everything – incentivised mainly by taking photos – something I take real comfort and solace in. My anxiety was so bad I’d regularly wake up at 5:30am, wait an hour and go and sit watching the last of the bats fly around as the swallows took their place in the sky. I can safely say my mind was empty and full, all at the same time. I had a mini celebration for one when I had my first “holiday lie in” which took me up to 07:30am!
I also felt inexplicably angry a lot too – you know what they say – “anger is just sad’s bodyguard”. As a result, I felt agitated and couldn’t hone in on one thing for long.
The worst thing my anxiety ever “stole” from me was my ability to just sit and read. I used to rattle through 3 or 4 books on holiday – maybe even more on a good run! This time round though, I struggled to get through one of the four books I’d hopefully brought with me. I sat in front of a new notebook – waiting for something to come to me… something to write down, an idea, a thought for blogging, a diary entry, a to do list, just anything, but it proved futile…
In the end, I spent most mornings sat curled on an armchair with a cup of tea waiting for everyone else to wake up, and then not being too sure what to say to them when they did surface…
I can’t even begin to explain what it feels like if you haven’t been there – and I wouldn’t wish it up on you either if you’ve had the fortune of not having been there.
Whilst I appreciate this looks like a bit of a pity party for one, I just wanted to say it’s OK…
- If you are somewhere wonderful with your favourite people and your mental health is giving you a good kicking.
- If you want to go and take yourself away from everything and everyone for a few hours, despite being on holiday with your favourite people. Go and lie in bed, practice some mindfulness, and wait until you feel ready to socialise again.
- Use “FOMO” (Fear Of Missing Out) to your advantage. Worried about not going somewhere and what you might not do? Let that be your driver and go anyway. All the times I did this, I woke up the next day and thought “God that really wasn’t as terrifying as I thought it was going to be.”
- Do what works for you, and what makes you happy; it’s your time out. This applies to any time off work etc that you might have, not just holidays. You don’t have to justify yourself to anyone.
- Go for a walk – clear your head and get some time out. The walk will bring you some endorphins and who knows what discoveries you’ll make on your way?
- and that you don’t need to feel guilty when you do feel like the above. It’s all relative. How you feel, is how you feel. No one can take that away from you, but you can take little steps to make yourself feel that little bit closer to being you.
Lastly, I just want to point out that social media doesn’t always tell the “full” story. All the lovely things I’ve told you about, I’ve enjoyed every second of – I genuinely have. But that’s not to say it wasn’t really, really hard to get there and get myself into that headspace, or that there weren’t times leading up to those things or after those things that had me in a massive tailspin with stress and anxiety; but don’t let what you see other people portray online exacerbate your low mood. We choose to share what we choose to share. I love to share my highlights, because that’s exactly what they are, but that doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been some low points to get there too.
I’ve got 2 more travel diaries to share with you – a paella recipe I like to whip up for everybody so that you can enjoy a little bit of Spanish cuisine, and a long day trip to the Al Hambra – which was amazing but hard going in lots of different ways!
So here it is – your friendly reminder that mental health is an ongoing journey and won’t always take a holiday when you do, that it’s OK to take time out when you need to – even if it’s not what everyone around you is doing, and that some times, even in the most perfect of circumstances, it’s just really bloody hard.
That said, this is also your friendly reminder to tell you – you’ve got this, you can do it, and even though it might be one step forward, ten steps back (I know that’s how my anxiety is most of the time), keep going and putting one foot in front of the other because one day you’ll look back and you won’t quite believe how far you’ve come.
Useful sites if you’re struggling with Mental Health:
Sending you so much love. This is an absolutely amazing post – so, so brave and beautifully written.
You’re completely right, mental health doesn’t take a holiday when you do (as great as it would be to pack it off with a one way ticket to somewhere far, far away) and it’s important that you still take time for yourself when you are away.
I love your tips – I often use FOMO to my advantage (or try to) but then also, the times I do take for myself and miss something, I usually find that actually no-one gets offended or thinks any less of me for not going.
I know I haven’t known you very long, but i genuinely feel so proud of how far you’ve come, and you know I’m always here if needed. I love reading your posts like this, you should be really proud too.
Thank you so much for your comment – your support means the absolute world to me!
And you’re so right, it’s amazing how much people don’t get as bothered as you think they will!
This comment honestly brought a little tear to my eye – thank you for being an amazing friend to me!
Kate, this is such a fantastic and honest post! I think it is SO important not only to share the wonderful memories that our travels bring us but also to share when things aren’t perfect. I know that it can feel like you’re the most ungrateful person in the world if you’re travelling in a gorgeous place with people you love yet you’re feeling anxious / down, but your feelings are 100% valid whenever you experience them! For example, when I was on my yoga break, we ate dinner around one big table every night (16 people + the yoga instructors) and very frequently, I absolutely hated it! I wanted to be anywhere else because I was so anxious and I just did not want to talk to anybody – often I ended up skipping dessert because I wanted to get back to my own room and a bit of solitude! After a few nights, I just decided to stop beating myself up because it was only making me feel more pressure, leading to even greater anxiety! On the last night I was able to stay for the duration of the meal and I felt good afterwards, but I think the only reason I managed it was because I hadn’t forced myself into it! I think that accepting how you’re feeling and not pressuring yourself can sometimes be the way forward! I couldn’t agree more with what you say about it being YOUR holiday too – it’s totally true and you deserve to be able to take time out if you need to without guilt! Everyone has different needs – you wouldn’t force your friend who had broken their arm to go rock climbing with you on holiday, so why force your friend who is having a mental health blip to do something they don’t feel capable of? Thank you for being so open and honest, I applaud this post! You’re a fantastically strong woman and I am in awe of you, you’ve taken a difficult subject matter and written a truly classy post, I couldn’t be prouder to call you my friend! (Sorry for the ramble) 😅
Abbey 🌸 http://www.abbeylouisarose.co.uk
Oh wow Abbey this comment – it’s absolutely made my day to sit through and read it all. I can totally identify with how you felt at those dinners – I think you’re so right about not forcing yourself to do things. It’s amazing how much more relaxed you feel when you take things at your own pace.
Your analogy about the friend rock climbing is a great one – I often forget about drawing the comparisons of mental health to physical health but I think this might be my new mantra!
The end of your comment made me all tear-y – the feeling is absolutely mutual! Thank you for your wonderful comment and for all your support!
Thank you so so nuch for writing this post! Coming back from a 5 weeks holiday and seeing so many lovely comments and although of course we had the best time and tried to do everything – I, Jessica had my moments in which of course we didn’t want to share or show in our posts and videos! Defo used FOMO to my advantage but also is wasn’t as bad as James understands how I am.
I am so so happy for you to share this, you are so brave! I love that you are sharing this to raise awareness of MH and showing the other side of the camera! You are amazing!
Jessica & James | http://www.foodandbaker.co.uk / http://www.foodandbakertravels.co.uk
Awww thank you Jessica (and James!) I’m so pleased this resonated with you! It’s so great that James understands – you two are such a lovely couple and I’m glad you’ve got someone who can support you when you need it.
Your comment is so lovely! Going to come back and read it when I have down days!
I’ve nominated you for the 2017 Leibster Award! Check it out here 🙂 https://sophie-amelia.com/2017/08/23/my-nomination-for-the-leibster-award/
Aw thank you so much Sophie Amelia!
Wow this is a great post seems like it would help alot of people. I myself have some anxiety and these tips can be very helpful.
Thank you so much for your lovely words Crystal!
I found this to be a really refreshing post, Kate, with some great truths.
Thank you Llinos!
Honesty posts are my favourite and this is so well written.
I get very overwhelmed when travelling if I am suddenly spending an awful lot of time with someone I don’t usually. I think alone time is always needed, even if you’re travelling and regardless of whether you feel alone or claustrophobic, that headspace just gives you a little time to chill and reflect.
Aw thank you so much Steph – I can imagine it can be quite intense especially in the job you’re in! I’m so glad you liked this post!
Oh darling, I just want to give you a huge hug because so much of this blog post I was nodding along to as I have felt the exact same on so many occasions and you put the words across really wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing such an honest, wonderfully written blog post with us all. I’m sending you so much love 🌸✨
With love, Alisha Valerie. x
http://www.alishavalerie.com | http://www.twitter.com/alishavalerie
Awww Alisha Valerie, that’s sooo sweet – I’m sorry you’ve gone through some similar things but I hope it made you feel less alone. I’m so happy you liked the way I wrote it!
I can definitely relate to being anxious on holiday. Unfortunately anxiety doesn’t stop even when we want a break! I was anxious too on my holiday to Budapest during the Summer. As you said and I definitely agree, it is so important to look after yourself on holiday and do what you know is best for you. Just wanted to say that I am so proud of you for going on the holiday in the first place and taking steps to overcome your anxiety and work on it. Its certainly not easy and I do admire your strength by going out there and doing things, looking after yourself when necessary and blogging about your anxiety. Thanks so much for sharing this post and for being so open . 🙂
Aw thank you so much Kate, your comment really made my day! It makes writing posts like this all worth it when I get a comment like yours.
Aw no problem at all, Kate 😊