The travel benefits of depression.

At that point where I was starting to realise something just isn’t right I started to randomly drive places. This in fairness was one of the triggers.

It started on what should have been a 25 minute journey along the motorway to my house. I don’t recall feeling a huge urge to get away but I saw a sign to somewhere else, and just turned off and started heading south away from the motorway.

I ended up 2 hours away on the Jurassic coast, it was beautiful and always somewhere I like to visit. But i didnt quite know how I’d got there. And when I finally stopped and thought about what was going on, as I stared out to sea, I started to wonder if I was actually now crazy. I realised this just isn’t normal.

I also then wondered how bad I was. I was by a very steep cliff and wondered how many other people had been here in times of need… either to seek comfort or for darker intentions. It just felt like that kind of place, the sort of place that was so profoundly beautiful it would be the ideal place to either fix your life or end it. I had absolutely no intentions of hurting myself there… but I was wondering how much it takes for someone to do it. I became fascinated with what thoughts must be running through people’s minds at that point. I got out of my car and walked to the edge and looked over. What would be going through someone’s head at this point. It looked a scary prospect. Painful. I almost felt a sense of admiration for the bravery it must take to make that step. But as i thought more that changed to a sense of sadness for the desperation someone must feel.

I then thought, how would i do it? Would i stand and ponder? Would i decide to walk over and just do it immediately without looking or thinking? I had no intention of doing anything (at this time) but after about half an hour of obsessed thinking about this I knew I wasn’t right. This thinking wasn’t right. It was more than just simple curiosity. I needed to think very carefully about what this meant.

I slept there in my car overnight. Don’t think i was allowed to but it was amazing. In the morning I then thought about how great it was to just see that place. Ignoring the very concerning obsession with suicide, I just headed somewhere i loved and enjoyed a night.

This led to what I now see to be quite a concerning habit. I would be out with my friends and drop people home, at perhaps 11pm, then think something like ‘I wonder what Stonehenge looks like at this time of night’. So I would go. ‘I bet the Severn Bridge looks amazing at this time of night’ so I would sleep under it. And to the extreme ‘I wonder what it’s like up north at the moment’, and I ended up at the Lake District 4-5 hours away.

Nothing hugely wrong with that in the right circumstances, other than I told no one and it really wasn’t the right circumstances looking back. As far as my wife was concerned I was disappearing. And i was not exactly healthy. But I didn’t even think about it. I was seeing all the places I wanted to see at the time I thought about them. Complete freedom. Amazing sights and locations frequently throughout the week. I didn’t go international which looking back surprises me. Unless you count Wales. But I went to just about every area of the UK. In one respect it was amazing. Finally, my complete mess of a head was reaping rewards in the form of spontaneous travel to picturesque locations.

Which was great until I had to face up to reality. This was escapism. It was running away. And as I did the thoughts often became darker. I worked out the practicalities of killing myself in about 20 different locations. Never wanted to do it, just became a mental exercise. But this was being left unchecked and getting worse and was only really reeled in when I started seeking help. Then I started to realise the huge risk of what I was actually thinking behind the travel plans.

Looking at my travels there’s huge benefits from this. I still enjoy the idea of freedom and now if I want to go away I feel happy to just do it there and then, which I would never have done before. I just would take my family or let people know what I’m doing just to keep a sense of normality to the whole thing. And my thoughts are now firmly based in relaxing and enjoying the scenery around me, which is a huge bonus.