I stepped off the plane in Hawaii, ready to relax and sip cocktails out of coconuts, I was slapped in the face with humid, hot air – closely followed by the crippling reality that my clinical depression had no intention of going on holidays. I wasn’t happy to be there, and I felt… ungrateful?
I’ve been at peace with my own mental health for a while now and yet I still didn’t consider it as something that could inhibit this trip. I was staying steps from one of the best beaches on the island, I had tickets to see my favourite band, and I was with two of my best friends. It’s a very sobering reality to still feel like it’s impossible to get out of bed while you’re literally steps from paradise.
I could say the aggressive sunburn I got the first day there was a contributing factor as to why I was struggling to do anything, but I’ve felt this before and I was spiralling. Depression is so unpredictable and will of course hit when you’re least expecting or wanting it to. Classic depression “cures” are going outside; getting some sun and maybe some exercise. I went in the sun, I looked at a tree and I was still depressed. What more do you suggest I do, if you truly believe people like me are just ‘sad’?
Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time, this was just hanging out in the back of my mind the whole time. Imagine the sunniest day, with a single storm cloud – that was the vibe.
Experiencing this when I least expected it really brought my own mental health to the front of my mind, which it hasn’t been for a while. I’m definitely prone to suffocating everything down and putting up a front that I’m okay. Pulling back and realising that it’s been a while since I was actively trying to help myself was hitting me like the persistent, crashing waves at the very beaches I didn’t want to be at. Now I’m trying to change that and actually try to help myself again, I’m kind of glad that this happened.
When you’re packing your bags for a holiday, leave room for your emotional baggage as well as the fourth pair of shoes you probably don’t need. Having mental health issues isn’t shameful or something to pretend doesn’t exist. By allowing your mental health to exist alongside you in a plane seat, rather than stowing it away in the overhead compartment, you’re 1. Giving yourself more room to breathe – literally and figuratively – by knowing where it is at all times, and 2. You’re recognising that sometimes where you lean and what you dribble on in your sleep isn’t always what you expect, but you can always rely on it.