Depression after Traveling – How to Arrive Home Happy

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Depression after Traveling

A manual for myself on how to battle the hard weeks after a trip

Depression after Traveling – How to Arrive Home Happily

Depression after traveling is likely, normal, consuming and hard to snap out of. This is not a guide on how to be happy – who the hell am I to tell you how to achieve that holy grail? No, I am trying to find a solution myself – and maybe, just maybe you will understand and rise with me from the bottom of the ocean just to be thrown back into the devastating waves of all-day life. The difference is that instead of drowning we’ll keep swimming – yes, clumsily and swallowing liters of water - but we’ll be there with our arms wide and our feet kicking.

The starting point

The worst post-travel-depressive-period I have had so far was in a time of my life, where everything seemed possible.

The worst post-travel-depressive-period (let’s call it PTDP to make it sound more scientific *not to be confused with really scientific) I have had so far was in a time of my life, where everything seemed possible. I had just finished high school, had a bit of money on my hands and was willing to spend absolutely everything in Bali.

 I couldn't believe how lucky I was to experience these views on Nusa Lembongan 

I couldn't believe how lucky I was to experience these views on Nusa Lembongan 

When you are 20 and don’t know how your life is going to look like in a couple of months, except that you want to study something – that is freedom.

Instead of worrying about my future I was worrying about what backpack to buy for my trip, that I did not know was going to be a solo one. When I arrived in Bali all by myself, I was scared at first. What was I going to do? Would I be lonely?

The videos that I took during those travels were showing a young woman who was hopeful for the future, drunken by a summer-romance and the most beautiful scenery she had ever seen.

Of course, I wasn’t. The trip turned out to be the kind where nothing could bring me down. The videos that I took during those travels were showing a young woman who was hopeful for the future, who seemed so happy one could wonder if she was high (no, I wasn’t or maybe…), drunken by a summer-romance and the most beautiful scenery she had ever seen. I saw the person that I would like to be every day.

 Look at that 100% happy face!

Look at that 100% happy face!

Reality-Check

That was when I felt the ceiling of water closing above me, my body sinking deeper and deeper.

When I came back, reality hit me like a truck hits a deer crossing the road at night. I was in shock, staring at the bright light getting bigger and bigger in front of me. Spoiled little brat, you might think now. The only thing I had to do was to return to a normal life and begin to be a university student. However, the weeks before my degree started and when I had nothing to do except to deal with bureaucracy and documents were a reality check. That was when I felt that ceiling of water closing above me, my body sinking deeper and deeper.

 Memories were in my mind - making me have depression after traveling
So, this was my situation: Fairytale over. Exploring over. Romance over. Raining outside while I was lying in bed, constantly reminiscing about the Gili Islands, Bali yoga classes, his piercing blue eyes... you get the picture!

Doors were closing, decisions had to be made. The fairytale was over. Not only was I slightly hung up over that digital nomad guy that I had met on Bali and that to this day is inspiring me to stray away from that typical career path, but I also had to face my upcoming future with a path laid out for me. That “normal” day-to-day life is an idea that I am struggling with even now. 

Getting out of the PTDP

Again, struggling with depression after a trip can mean anything from being bumped for a couple of days to not wanting to continue your usual life. All reactions are valid and have to be taken seriously. Whatever you feel – it is not too little or too stupid to not talk about it. I am not the person to give you professional advice if the latter is the case. IF you are struggling with depression, do not hesitate any longer and seek help with these websites. This is not a guide on how to be happy for all of you, this is my self-help manual – but maybe you can find yourself in these words.

*PS – if you want to contact me with any questions, write to larissa@femaletravelcollective.com

Step 1: Arrive

With arriving I obviously do not mean that you should literally arrive at home. You probably have done that by now – otherwise, you would not be reading this.

Instead of throwing myself into the life that was ahead of me I was editing a video about my trip.

The mistakes I made when coming back home after my Bali trip were obvious: Instead of throwing myself into the life that was ahead of me I was editing a video about my trip, showing everyone the pictures (believe me, no one wants to see 300 of them). I was basically trying anything possible to keep the memory alive.

Let's try another way

Shouldn’t we find another way together? Even if people ask us about our trip, we’ll try to keep our answers short, at least for the next couple of weeks.

Let us get back out there, let’s make plans with our friends, make dinner for our family, or look for a new weird hobby. Instead of talking about ourselves and our amazing travel experience, let’s focus on what we missed while we were gone (OR do the opposite and write about it like I do ha – trying to teach myself a lesson here).

We will not only do ourselves a favor but also our friends who won’t have to pretend that they enjoy the typical self-centered home-coming traveler. I do not want to ask you, and neither myself, to change who we are. However, making ourselves comfortable with the idea that we are now different, will never be the same, and that we may never be happy at home again will not change our situation, right?

This might not solve our PTDP but it might cushion the blow of the waves that are hitting us from north and east at the same time. Calm ocean – a calmer mind. Or whatever that means (I like explaining things with the ocean, okay?).

Step 2: Remember from a happier place

 A new life in Berlin was starting

A new life in Berlin was starting

From now on, I will read this article every time I come home from a trip.

Yay! I have made it. I just made plans for my first university week, I took up my new responsibilities with a twinkle in my eyes. I know that nothing is final. I will never be stuck in one place if I don’t want to. Instead of fighting off the waves of my day, I have bought an air mattress to rest on… suddenly those waves carry me to the shore without me contributing to it.

This is a scenario of how it could have been after my fateful Bali trip. It really wasn’t. But had I been in this happier place, I would have been ready to edit that video, to show around these pictures without being too pushy, and to remember Mr. Digital Nomad’s blue eyes with thankfulness for the whole adventure. Consequently, I could have planned my next trip without the aching need to get away again but with the positive curiosity that pushes me out there to explore.

From now on, I will read this article every time I come home from a trip. Like a letter to my older self – so to speak. I will keep you updated if it helps! If all fails, check out my rootless playlist on Spotify to sooth your pain and not feel alone!

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We are a team of four feminist travelers coming together from different parts of the world to share with you what we have learned from traveling, living, loving, and exploring all over the world. Join us and tell your story about female solo travel, relationships, mental health, city guides, or whatever else comes to your mind.

 Berlin-based author of this text is Larissa, founder of the Female Travel Collective, solo travel lover and convinced feminist! 

Berlin-based author of this text is Larissa, founder of the Female Travel Collective, solo travel lover and convinced feminist! 

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