Travelling should be exciting. The anticipation of embarking on a journey should give you that warm fuzzy feeling in your stomach. Most of the times, I get it. I make lists of places I want to visit, restaurants I want to eat at, and secret spots for photography.
Sometimes, it’s not so easy. I know what you are thinking. If I don’t want to travel, then why do I? And that’s a perfectly valid question. The thing is, sometimes the answer is more complicated.
Just a little over a year ago, I went to Scotland with my then boyfriend. We’d plan a 10-day road trip starting in Edinburgh, taking us all the way to the West coast up to the Isle of Mull and back to the capital. We’d found the perfect romantic bothy in the heart of a forest. We’d rented a car and found a ton of audiobooks. I wanted to research, plan and get excited. Except, this time, I couldn’t.
In November 2017, my life couldn’t go better. I had a great job, good friends, and I was in love. But I felt stuck in a pit of darkness. I was numb to emotion and overly stressed. I was exhausted – putting one foot in front of the other was an accomplishment in itself. I felt unsafe, insecure and afraid. That’s when we went to Scotland.
I should have loved it – and I’ve only kept the fond memories – but I know I didn’t enjoy it as I would today. We climbed Arthur’s Peak in Edinburgh and I was clumsy and terrified of falling. I felt abandoned by my partner. I couldn’t process everything that was happening around me and only craved the duvet of our AirBnB.
Once we started driving it didn’t get better. I was the sole driver and my first time driving a car in the UK. Each leg was long, 4-6 hours, with little breaks to avoid being trapped in the middle of the night.
I became desperate. I felt responsible for my partner as I was the one encouraging to take couple-trips. I didn’t want to risk his life by driving poorly. I didn’t want to ruin his trip by being unavailable or unhappy. Yet, I was so tired. I wish there was a better way I could describe the overwhelming sense of exhaustion that came over me. But I was… so so so so tired.
I know that now you’re waiting for the twist in the story. How we might have had a chat and cured my depression. How I got a grip and realised my privilege. That’s not what we’re here for.
The trip is not just a black hole in my memory. I have fond memories of Scotland. The locals we met were friendly, helpful and warm. The way the mist rolled down the mountains haunts me to this day, and in a way, it feels as if I didn’t recognise home. My dreams keep taking me back to Glencoe, to the Isle of Mull and to Inveraray. I can hear the rivers and streams and feel the cold wind in my face.
Travelling with depression, and making it with good memories, taught me that I could do it. 10 months later I was driving in New Zealand by myself, sleepy from the long journey. I should have been scared as night started to fall, but I knew I could do it. Because I’d done it before. Scotland gave me my strength back.
Happy (belated) Burns Night, everyone.