“Travelling is the ruin of all happiness!” Fanny Burney
Last week, I started writing a blog entry on the subject of my love-hate relationship with travel. I’m sure this it’s common among sufferers of anxiety; I love to visit different, new places, but generally I find the process of preparation and getting there a trial. I doubt many anxious people do enjoy it – there’s so much to worry about. So much opportunity to catastrophise! There have been trips where I have spent so much time stressing about the minutiae that I have forgotten to enjoy myself.
What prompted the original idea for a post was that we have been preparing for a long-awaited visit back to the UK, to spend some time with the family, for the first time in a year. We had to cancel our Christmas trip at the eleventh hour, and so it feels like this has been a very long time coming! And of course, travel in the time of a pandemic – and to post-Brexit Britain – is not a straightforward activity. My partner and I are both fully-vaccinated, but the UK regulations require a pre-travel test here in France, then one within two days of arrival there (at a centre from a designated list, and we all know what that means in Boris’s Britain). Add in the ever-present possibility of an overnight change to the situation, and you have a perfect storm of anxiety-causing factors, for me at least.
But by the end of last week, everything had more or less fallen into place. All the hotels, crossings and appointments are booked, everything that can be done in advance has been. Excellent. Then I realised that I didn’t feel better. Well, not substantially. Don’t get me wrong, I am really looking forward to the trip. We will be visiting my sister-in-law, and both my daughters, as well as having a couple of nights in Stratford-Upon-Avon, which is very much “My Happy Place”. And most of all, I can’t wait to see and hold our grandson, who nowadays is walking and talking.
What this has reminded me is that my depression and anxiety is only marginally influenced by external factors. I’ve been unwell for a while. I saw my GP recently and he has increased my dose of antidepressant. It may take a while to have an effect, but in any case, I know that my mental health goes through peaks and troughs, and this is definitely a trough. If you were to meet me today, unless you knew me very well, I doubt you would know there was anything wrong. People with depression rarely mope about like Eyeore. I enjoy doing all the things I normally do, but it’s just as if I’m looking at everything through a thin veil. It’s not as bad as it was before I was on medication, I should say that, but life does feel a little bit, well, grey, right now. That said, I have people around me who are supportive and understanding and that is incredibly valuable to me.
The most pronounced and troublesome symptoms relate to my anxiety. I can cope with most things, but a social gathering with more than four or five adults is too much, and a crowded place is not for me, not right now. Mostly I feel very tired, both physically and emotionally, and this can occasionally make me rather short-tempered, unfortunately. I am hoping that a change of scene and time with the family will help, although I know that sometimes it can simply be a matter of waiting for the storm to pass. And I think I can cope with Stratford, for a much-needed boost from the Bard.
I’ll let you all know how I get on.