Ring, ring, ring says the phone. “Thank for you for calling, I’m currently on vacation and I can’t reach the phone right now. If you leave a message and your number after the tone, I will call you back as soon as possible. Have a great day!”
I don’t know about you but I love vacation time. Love it with a passion. I will spend the first half of the year accumulating my vacation time and come up with a plan on when I’m taking vacation and where I want to go. Just recently, I had a nice relaxing staycation at home and was also out and about in the city. I did watch my boys, The Houston Astros, last Saturday. That’s always fun. Every now and then, it’s important to take a vacation from work, from home, and just enjoy yourself.
I have mixed emotions on vacation. Don’t get me wrong, a week’s paid vacation is great, but sometimes it aggravates my anxiety. The planning of a vacation can be a little stressful especially if you’re planning on driving or flying to a certain destination. When I flew back to Wisconsin six years ago, I enjoyed myself to the fullest but also had some depression. I was upset to have to spend $800 to board my Chihuahuas because I refuse to take them on a plane with me or have them get lost in their kennels onboard the flight. So saying goodbye to your best friends was hard. The boarders that watched and took care of my dogs said that for the entire week they were very depressed. They cried, barked and howled until they fell asleep. Trust me, I cried because I missed them and they were 2,000 miles away from me.
When I visited my hometown, I didn’t recognize it all. Time changes and things change. It was as if I was in the wrong city but I wasn’t. So many new buildings, new restaurants and other places that weren’t there when I was a resident. Probably one of the biggest things that I experience when traveling is homesickness. I will not lie when I say that I do miss my home. When I drove down to Houston almost 10 years ago, I missed my hometown so bad after driving through just one state. I wanted to turn around and go back home.
When I do travel, I always think about my mental health. Traveling can reek havoc on your depression and other mental illnesses. The very first time that I boarded a plane, I went into a full panic attack mode. I’ve never like airplanes and airports always scared me. You could call it a phobia. I would agree, but every time I see a 747, I start to hyperventilate and get chills up and down my body. So imagine my first adventure in flying. I’m a reluctant flyer and I had to literally force myself into the airport. People must’ve thought that I’m weird, but I don’t like planes. I went through security and then sat and waited for my flight. When it came time to board, I popped a Xanax to help relieve my anxiety. I had to think positively and ran like hell onto the plane. Of course, my seat was next to the window (WHY?) and I closed the window. When the plane was taking off, I starting chewing gum and counted back from 100 to relax myself. That wasn’t too bad, but it made my ears pop and my headache because of the altitude change. Landing was horrible. It was a bumpy ride. It’s like someone slamming on the brakes and you practically may as well go right through the windshield. I wanted to get off that plane very fast. To this day, I don’t like flying nor do I want to fly again.
If you’re like me, when you take a vacation and you have everything planned out, make sure you include a mental health kit, too. I know my body too well. In my mental health traveling kit, I take my medicines with me (of course), I take along some relievers (like Tylenol), I keep anti-acids and Pepto tablets (because homesickness upsets my stomach so does my anxiety), and I bring some of my tools such as music, books, my laptop for writing, and others so that if I have an attack I can get out my tools and relax myself.
Granted, when you’re on vacation and you’re sight-seeing around the globe, don’t assume that your mental illness is gone. It’s still there. You can be focused on the sights but at the end of the day and you’re lying in bed; your mind can go haywire with thoughts racing through your mind. This happened to me on numerous times during vacation. One time I got sick on vacation and all my head could think of was the image of myself destroying a store’s bushes with puke. I hate when that happens! Or another time, I was at an amusement park out-of-state and I was on a ride that goes upside down. That scared the crap of me and my panic and anxiety attacks nearly killed me after that. One of my vacation hotspots is Wisconsin Dells and they have a waterpark called Noah’s Ark. There is a ride that called the Point of No Return. It’s a slide that’s about 20 stories high and you have to walk up numerous flights of stairs to get to the top. Once it was my turn, I looked down and almost chickened out. I got the courage to just do and I did. When you go sliding down a steep water slide that’s 20 stories high, there’s no time to scream. The adrenaline rush feels amazing, but your anxiety hates you for it.
With that being said, vacations are meant to be relaxing and an escape from the real world. But it isn’t always like that. Things happen. But always prepare yourself for just about anything when you travel. If flying makes you nervous (like me) and you experience homesickness (like me), then talk to your doctor about methods you can use to stay calm and relaxed. Remember, mental illness doesn’t take any vacation days at all even if you’re on vacation.