Long were the days that I used to stare at the sky, watching the planes taking off from the airport. For most of my life, I lived close to the airport and from a very young age, I was fascinated by those engines with wings. I have left the country a few times before and every time I would get extremely excited about it. It would cause this unfamiliar yet satisfying effect on my body, a sensation of relief.
Being very active on social media also made me admire the concept of Traveling. Travelers would describe their journey as freeing, amazingly rewarding to their well-being and overall, an experience that would make them intensely happy. Happy… I definitely wanted that!
So, when Depression hit really hard, I would often contemplate the idea of obtaining a ticket to go be somewhere else other than here. I wanted to run from the problems that were fueling the constant burden I was enduring.
Because my parents live 5000+ miles away, I have flown a few times to visit them. I would be enthusiastic about walking around the airport and getting in the plane, even knowing that I had a seven-hour flight to get to the destination. Landing safely, I would think “Finally, I won’t have complications for a couple of weeks.” But staying there never actually made me feel fulfilled. I assumed it was because of my family on my mom’s side, who constantly had to criticize my every move in life; past, present, and future speaking. It was overwhelming, causing me to want to distance myself; or in other words: to travel.
I made a few other trips to a neighboring country, which enhanced my mood but the people I was with would procrastinate so much, it would eventually arouse my sensitivity to boredom. From my understanding, that was the cause of my low-spirit.
I also traveled across the ocean once. However, it followed a manic bipolar episode, which caused seas of tears throughout the entire vacation.
Therefore, my theory that the depression would be cured by leaving my home even for a couple of days remained in the back of my mind for a long time. I truly believed that the bleakness in me was caused by maintaining a routine, by looking around and seeing the same buildings, the same stores, the same people.
I visited this island in, again, hopes of better my pain. It was an extremely complicated time of my life. The mental weight I was carrying was exceedingly heavy. My chest was aching of so much suffering.
The island was small, surrounded by other islands. Everywhere you go, the view is breathtaking and the air is so pure. The quietness translated to peace. Everyone was polite and willing to help you in any situation. They would greet foreigners with a sincere welcoming smile.
For someone who has lived all her life in the city, this was the ultimate place to achieve mindfulness.
Except that I was succumbing to depression. It was more than crying behind closed doors. I was in a state of apathy. I wasn’t in any way interested in this beautiful sight. The misery stuck around and it was contagious. My boyfriend wasn’t able to enjoy his holidays because of me. I was that bad. It felt like I got intoxicated with some kind of drug, packed my problems deep in my bag and forgot about it when the effect wore off.
I was still crying as much as I would if I was in the familiarity of my bed. I was still dreading like I was encircled by my depressive things. I was dragging my soul around, forcing a smile that was clearly full of agony.
Nothing in that trip felt like a cure to the luggage of despair that I bear with me.
You should travel anyway…
Despite facing these experiences, I defend that people should go and discover the world.
I created positive memories from these and other trips as well. Occasionally disconnecting from my daily life, getting away from the routine, was indeed beneficial for my health. I acquired some knowledge, inspired the history in the places I’ve visited and learned about different cultures. It made me feel part of a diverse community, that the world was much more than land with boundaries.
… But in finding the cure for depression, traveling is not an option
Some people report that wandering abroad was a definitive solution for their dreary feeling. But when constantly battling with major depression, taking a trip is just a short-time answer. It’s a quick fix, postponing the inevitable desolation that we will end up feeling. It is mostly a pleasant distraction.
You shouldn’t look for help in sporadic little pleasures like migrating to explore the unknown. Depression, when not treated, can devour our lives. It’s important to accept that therapy still prevails as the long-term remedy for this invisible disease.
I still love traveling; I still want to find new, mind-blowing sights and connect with unusual cultures. It is definitely enjoyable but it wasn’t until last year, after accumulating several plane and bus tickets that I finally understood that the happy, fulfilling, mind-curing trips were for, well, happy people.
No, Traveling Is Not An Antidote For Depression was originally published in The Ascent on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.