There’s a man who follows me around while I travel, creepy as that might sound. He rides the rickshaws with me, eats at all the same restaurants as I do, and sometimes, sleeps in my room with me. When it’s been awhile since I've met another traveler, he makes me feel lonely. When I’m on a long train ride (as I am right now) he tells me I’m wasting my time. He says I should have stayed at home, because there is nothing to be gained from being overseas. He makes me doubt my own actions, ambitions, and feelings, and laughs at my naivete. The man makes me downright miserable.
Yeah, yeah you get the picture. No, depression does not go away just because you’re on the road. In fact, it can be at its worst. Travel forces you to face your vulnerabilities, opening the path for your inner demons to strike. In the long run, this may be a good thing. It allows you to discover yourself: what makes you happy; what makes you sad; what sets off your emotions. Heck, maybe you’re even still figuring out what your emotions are. However, in the moment, depression is no fun. It can put the damper on an otherwise boisterous occasion. I understand that.
Travel won’t cure your anxiety. It won’t cure your laziness. It won’t cure your self-doubt. It most certainly won’t cure your depression. Whether you’re visiting a temple or riding an elephant, the man can strike at any time. Keep in mind, travel cannot cure ailments, be they physical or mental. Know your limits; know what you’re getting yourself into. Don’t wait until you are miles from home to face your problems. Treat every traveling day with self-love, just as you would back home.
To all you travelers, who suffer from depression (and I know I can’t be the only one), I salute you. Keep doing what you’re doing. You’re not alone.
My name is Yonah Paley. I quit my job in the United States to travel. I also write movies and do photography. As I backpack across the world, I share stories, philosophy, and travel tips.