In the interests of continuity, day five, a non travelling day, still deserves a short mention.
Today has been a catch up day; printing out orders, catching up with emails and texts, planning the second half of my journey, debating whether to venture out (after a wrangle with my PFC (physical fitness conscience) I decided I’ll get enough fresh air and exercise once I set off again on Thursday), throwing washing in the machine and repacking my case.
In between jobs, I got to thinking about how this long-planned trip had coincided with a big dip in my mental health.
At the risk of repeating myself (when has that ever stopped me, before??) I need to lay a little background for those who missed my Facebook post about ten days ago. In a nutshell, I’ve suffered from depression for the last thirty five years. After the first few years, which included severe post natal depression, a stay in hospital and several visits to a lovely psychiatrist, I did manage to stabilise, with the endless support of family and friends – and some little red pills.
Over the years, like most people, I’ve faced numerous stressful situations which, again with love, help and support, I’ve coped with. The pills balance the serotonin levels in my brain. They are not ‘happy’ pills, they are ‘normality’ pills, and in the last few weeks I’ve realised, despite what I thought, I still need them. It really is that simple.
Having pondered long and hard about posting a long, personal, confessional status on Facebook, I was amazed and hugely touched by the responses and messages, both public and private, that I received in the following days. They confirmed my belief that we do need to pay regard to mental illness. We do need to be open and unashamed if we’ve suffered, as so many have. And it’s good to be honest about what has worked for each of us. Not everybody needs anti-depressants, and not everybody needs counselling. I’m waiting for counselling but I’m also aware that that alone is not the full solution for me. At the age of sixty four, I’ve had enough time to get to know my body and mind, and if I’ve learned one thing in the last couple of weeks it’s that I need to trust my instincts.
Despite being a pretty sociable person, I enjoy my own company and never really mind being alone, so the last few days have given me a great opportunity to really think about things without interruption. I’ve said before that I’m a great believer in everything happening for a reason – call it fate – and this project coinciding with such low feelings is just such an occasion. I knew when I planned this trip that I was taking myself out of my comfort zone, I just didn’t realise quite how far I would be pushing myself through some very dark places.
Now, I’m happy to say, the fog is clearing, my mood is beginning to stabilise, and I’m feeling joy again. My family and friends have told me they’re proud of me, and for once I’m going to admit I’m proud of myself. I set off last Friday, feeling vulnerable and shaky, and arrived home yesterday, strong and optimistic.
One more rest day tomorrow, then I’m off again, for part two of this exciting adventure, which has turned out to be not just a road trip but also a winding journey around my head.