Sup my people!
2 important números for you to know.
Número 1 – I borrowed a room mate’s mosquito spray yesterday which is apparently very good. It is certain, as of this morning, that it is apparently very bad and I am currently so mosquito bitten I look like I have measles. I’m assuming I must be a very tasty individual. Yes, I told you this was an important fact for you to know and I wasn’t kidding was I.
Número 2 – I am back to being by myself, and once again, I’m struggling to sleep. I’ve had problems sleeping on and off for years, but it usually happens when I’m alone and feeling a little out of control. I’ve been meditating with Headspace every night which is working its magic though so that’s good 🙂
Okay, with my números done, here is a brief summary of where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing. I’m currently on the beautiful island of Koh Samui, having to get my visa extended (loooooong) but equally meaning I can relax and sunbathe (hooorayyyyy). I’ve spent the last few weeks in Bangkok, Krabi, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan, hiking, beaching, eating, socialising and full moon party-ing and it’s been fantastic fun.
There is a “BUT” to this story. I do think it’s incorrect to assume that just because I’m in the most magical place ever, thoughts and emotions just disappear. I’ve never been good with change, and any remotely different environment usually involves me trying to control any situation, possibility, probability or outcome that may arise from it – which we all know is impossible, hence the angst. I’ve also recently made a big decision for me, a very hard one, but one that I think deep down is the best choice. This decision means I have openly chosen to be completely alone again which is a huge step – now without a safety blanket and having to start looking out for myself – and that feels desperately difficult and painful. I still struggle to be alone, it’s part of the reason I came here by myself – to BE okay independently, to challenge it head on and to try and make love and peace with it.
In times like this, when travelling by yourself, it can be hard to know how to make yourself feel better when you start to feel low or anxious. Often, I’ve found that I have to ride the wave out until my mood starts to rise – for me that’s a few days, although right now with my lack of sleep, it could be longer. So, with that in mind, here’s my list of 5 THINGS TO KEEP YOUR MENTAL HEALTH SANE TRAVELLING SOLO if you’re ever feeling a little blue-ish. Perhaps they’re obvious, but when I’m feeling like a pile of dog poo, it can be hard to remember them.
1. KARAOKE HOSTEL SHOWER TIME
Sorry to the past, present and future shower neighbours of mine that have and will be hearing me sing/scream in the shower to Queen and Whitney. I do not care when I’m travelling if people have to resort to shower ear plugs, there’s a few songs that I know I feel better if I sing out loud and shower time is my time to do that. My top songs to sing when feeling low are:
Whitney Houston, One Moment in Time
Wham, Wake Me Up Before You Go Go
Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody
S Club, Bring It All Back
Shania Twain, Man! I Feel Like A Woman
2. CHEAP FACE MASKS, NETFLIX AND CHILL (BY YOURSELF) NIGHT
This applies to females and males – sometimes, you just need to do little and very cheap things to feel good about yourself. For me, that’s feeling clean because a lot of the time, Depression or Anxiety tries to force you to smell as bad as they do. I think if you can get out to the local 7/11, LIDL, wherever the hell you are in the world supermarket, buy yourself a face mask (and if you’re feeling spontaneous a cucumber, chop it up and relax for five minutes) you can feel a million dollars. Then watch Family Guy (obviously with cucumber slices removed), because how could Peter not make you laugh? Sometimes, you just need to do nothing to feel better.
3. Download HEADSPACE and meditate
When my Grandad died, when my Dad was in hospital, when my brother was in hospital, when my ex boyfriend and I broke up, I couldn’t sleep. I mean, it all happened in the space of a week, so you can’t really blame me can you. But then I couldn’t sleep for a month, or two months.. then three.. it goes on for a while. If I allowed myself to relax, I’d have horrible nightmares of my Grandad watching me, unable to help him. I still have these, but not as frequently, thank god. Nowadays, I just struggle to sleep without someone holding me – which doesn’t really work wonders when you’re trying your best to be alone does it. One thing I’ve found that helps is the app, Headspace. Two years ago, during those awful six months of Insomnia, it was the ONLY thing I actually passed out to, I couldn’t believe it. My best friend Shayna paid for half a subscription for me, for the full membership for my birthday present this year which was awesome. The last few days, where I’ve struggled to sleep, I’ve listened to one of their sleepcasts called the “Midnight Launderette” and I swear to god, I wake up forgetting I’ve even dreamt – minus yesterday where I dreamt about another ex but hey ho, at least I slept! I’m pretty sure this particular sleepcast is on Headspace’s free version so check it out. They’ve got lots of different options for relaxation, stress, anxiety and I’ve been enjoying meditating to the one focusing on Loneliness.
EDIT: I am now proud to announce I am an official Headspace Ambassador! Click here to get yourself 10 free sessions on Headspace Pro 🙂
4. Download WYSA and start writing
I was recommended Wysa by a friend who also suffers from mental health problems and it’s absolutely fantastic. It’s an app, an “AI life coach” that is essentially a little virtual, robot you can speak to, any time you want, about ANYTHING you want. Based on CBT principles, it can help you rationalise thoughts and is a nice place to start being open with your feelings. It’s actually a lot more than just that, it offers you yoga and meditation techniques, a therapist service you can pay for and a weekly report so you can pick up on niggles you’ve been focusing on to work on them completely. It’s actually a really nice thing to have when you don’t feel like talking to anyone in particular.
5. Listen to a PODCAST
There are some brilliant ones out there on Spotify, and I listen to a few random ones. There’s one called “Twin Perspectives” focusing on travels, blogging and writing, which is pretty relatable to me, because one of the girls suffers from Anxiety herself. I also like Fearne Cotton’s “Happy” podcast as her interviews with various well known people I find bring mental illness to the surface authentically. When I’m not in the mood to listen to anything mental health related, I have “Those Conspiracy Guys” on repeat which lets me zone out. Their podcast is a comedic way of researching huge events that have taken place and the conspiracies and rumours behind them. Sometimes it’s just good to close your eyes and listen to these Irish lads, just to have a bit of a think about what they’re saying.
So THOSE are my top 5.
I know I could have chosen a lot more, writing, reading, phone a friend, phone a family member etc but some people aren’t in positions where they can, and I think these can be slightly more all rounded.
Let me know what YOU do to help your Depression and Anxiety. I’d love to hear 🙂