Welcome to the second blog post in the PossesstheWorld.com Travelling with a Chronic Illness series.
Living with a chronic illness can be challenging in ways that many of us never even think about. Just imagine how challenging that can make travelling.
We asked a group of travellers and bloggers about their illness, challenges and travel tips.
By sharing the stories of travellers with chronic illness we hope that you will find inspiration, travel tips and resources which might help you or someone you know to experience the wonderful world of travel.
You can read more about health and travel in the HEALTH section of this website, just click on the link.
Without further ado, let’s introduce our second Traveller-Kelly from GirlwiththePassport.com
Kelly Duhigg is the Girl with the Passport, she is an avid budget, solo female traveler who also happens to have been managing anxiety, depression and insomnia for many years. She is a self described cheeky New Yorker with a keen sense of humour and just a hint of naughtiness, which is evident in her successful travel blog.
Kelly has kindly agreed to tell her story, to share how she manages her mental health challenges whilst travelling and inspire others with anxiety, depression or insomnia to take up the challenge and travel.
How does your Chronic Illness affect your life and travel?
I grew in a household where mental health was a non-issue. Whatever feelings you had, you just sucked it up and moved through them because that was life and you needed to accept life as is.
So I did what I was told, but occasionally my anxiety and depression would manifest itself in such a way, that I needed to tell someone.
There were nights where I wouldn’t sleep because I was afraid someone one murder me and was terrified about what would happen to me after I died. I also had this sadness about me that never really went away. I never felt smart enough, pretty enough, or funny enough and from an early age, I started to use food to make me feel better.
But deep down inside, I always knew something was wrong. I would explain this to my parents, to which they replied, “No, you’re fine”. However, I didn’t feel fine and eventually used Anorexia as a way to make me feel better and cope with my intense anxiety and depression.
I had no idea why I felt and acted like this, until I visited a therapist for the first time, at the age of 28.
At first, talking and working through my issues really helped. But as I stripped away all my self-destructive coping mechanisms, I was left with an overwhelming sense of sadness and panic that made me feel like I just wanted to stop living and dealing with these overwhelming negative feelings.
However, I finally was introduced to a psychiatrist who treated me for both depression and anxiety; two conditions that make travel a bit tricky.
I have to stock up on medications before any trip, always double checking to see if my destination allows my medications to be imported and ensuring that I have the correct amount for my entire trip.
I also have to be constantly vigilant against any downward spiral in my mental health.
Are there any special considerations you take when travelling?
Sure, I get overwhelmed by the anxiety of exploring unknown places or by the sadness of being alone, but if I want to travel, I need to fight these feelings by meditating, journaling, getting enough sleep, and not over exerting myself with too many activities.
I also always have my therapist’s number on hand so that if things get difficult, I can make a call to her and connect with a professional about the state of my mental health.
Yes it’s annoying and sometimes I really don’t want to have to do all these things just to travel, but I’d rather address these issues and pursue my love of travel. Because in the end, I can’t change who I am or how I feel, but I can do things to move through it and to make sure that those feelings don’t completely overwhelm me.
Have you ever had to seek medical assistance whilst travelling?
I have not had to be hospitalised or see medical intervention whilst travelling but I always keep that phone number handy just in case I need some extra support.
Are there any travel tips you would like to share?
I encourage anyone suffering from anxiety, depression, and insomnia to follow their dreams and continue to travel.
Sure, these conditions make travel a bit of a challenge, but I’d rather face my diseases than give up on what I love. Plus, if I feel overwhelmed and particularly stressed by my disease, I always try to remember that feelings do not have any factual basis. Therefore, whatever I am feeling or worries about will probably not come to pass.
Additionally, I remind myself that these feelings will pass and that they will not last forever. I just need to get through feeling uncomfortable and can do that if I take my medication and practice different strategies for coping with my feelings.
You can read more about Kelly’s Travel and Tips on her blog Girl With a Passport or on her Social Media sites
If you or anyone you know find this information useful, please like and share via the Social Media buttons on the left hand side of the post.
If you would like any information relating to this post please contact us or leave a message below.
If you would like more information about any of the conditions in this post you can contact:
beyondblue- Australian Depression and Anxiety organisation
The American Anxiety and Depression Association- ADAA
If you would like to add further resources to share with others please contact us to do so.
You can read more articles about Staying fit and Healthy while you travel in the HEALTH section of this website.
These links are not paid or sponsored, they are a trusted credible resource researched by the author.
Well written and takes a lot of guts to open up about personal issues like that. Thanks for sharing
Hi there, thanks for reading and commenting. Kelly is certainly very brave for sharing her story in order to inspire other travellers
I’ve read Kelly’s blog a few times and definitely didn’t know that about her! Props to her for confronting her issues and powering through them! Wishing her all the best! #FeetDoTravel
Hi there, thanks for reading and commenting. We love Kelly’s blog too and she is such a positive young woman, even with the challenges of a mental illness
This is so inspiring and so amazing to read how you deal with travel and mental health. Its such a great post that perhaps we can collaborate in the future. I write about yoga and wellness, which covers mindfulness and travel sometimes too. It’s good to share this article and make people more aware as so many people will be able to relate x #FeetDoTravel
Hi Samantha, thanks for reading and commenting. We would love to discuss a collaboration, drop us an email and we can talk about it more
An inspirational read! I have friends suffering from bi-polar & depression and, at first, they didn’t think they could travel. They didn’t feel they would “gel” with other travellers and wouldn’t have anything in common with them, then they realised that actually, they could be who they wanted to be and they didn’t have to tell anyone anything about their issues and just enjoy the world and the company of people from around the world. It’s the greatest medicine and life experience in my opinion! #feetdotravel
Hi Angie, thanks for reading and commenting. Travel is certainly good for the mind and body in our experience too
“I grew in a household where mental health was a non-issue. Whatever feelings you had, you just sucked it up and moved through them because that was life and you needed to accept life as is.”
Unfortunately far too much of our society takes this approach. Thank you for sharing your story Kelly and helping to start a new conversation.
Hi Vicky, awareness is so important for both those who have a diagnosed mental health disorder and those who may need to seek help and we are grateful to Kelly for sharing her story. Thanks for reading and commenting
Great post to share with the realities of real travelers and circumstances! Kelly did a great job expressing herself and Im sure it will help other with this post!
Travel is a resource and everyone does it with different reasons.
Good of you to put it out here!
Hi Dee, thanks for reading and commenting. Kelly is a super inspiring young woman, have you seen her blog?
Kelly really opened up in her interview with you, which is probably therapeutic in a way too. She is a great writer and traveler, I enjoy reading her blogs and follow her on all social media. I very much admire Kelly, anxiety comes with travel as it, is so for her to go forward with travel even while she suffers from it more than some of us, is just plain brave! Cheers to Kelly!!
Hi Sherrie, thanks for reading and commenting. We could not agree more, Kelly is an inspirational woman
What an interesting read! and the initiative to start those interviews
Hi Baia, thanks for reading and commenting
This is a really inspiring post. I love Kelly, and follow her on all social media already. So, I’m quite surprised to read this. As always, she continues to inspire and I’m glad that she’s doing well and continuing to spread her cheer and positivity!
Hi there, we love Kelly’s blog too and find her determination to keep travelling inspiring
How inspirational and what a wonderful interview. To be able to not only travel but solo travel under these conditions must be so challenging! Good for you girl!
Hi Amy, thank you for reading and commenting
This is beautifully written
Hi Shruti, thanks for reading
As a traveler who also deals with depression and anxiety, I really appreciate Kelly’s candidness and this series! Thank you for bringing mental health and chronic health issues out into the open, it’s so important to talk about!
Hi Sierra, thank you for reading and your comments. Good luck with your health challenges and happy travels