During my travels, I realized that if I don’t give my mental health enough attention, I will struggle to enjoy my journey sooner or later. I thought I would never be able to travel alone with my problems, but staying in one place that might seem secure was never an option. I learned how to deal with the needs that I have with my personality disorder and how to keep me going no matter how much I want to give up. I hope my travel tips will help other borderliners traveling and living with depression, dissociation, and other mental health issues.
1. Be conscious
Who am I borderline personality disorder? We tend to lose ourselves in others. We tend to make up stories or forget our past and question our identity. I dissociate on a weekly basis, having random hallucinations and forgetting where I am and who the people around me are. Suddenly everything feels like a dream to me and I can’t trust my memories because it feels like they are implanted by someone. Sounds scary, doesn't it? It was scary to me in the beginning, with time and spiritual practice I learned to let myself go and just feel all the feelings without judgments. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it works. Remember we are not our experiences, we are conscious beings here to collect experiences. So next time you’re traveling and start to dissociate don’t freak out, allow to feel your emotions as they are only visitors.
2. Practice Meditation
I think this is one of the best tips I can give everyone. Especially when you travel it might be hard to find time for yourself, sometimes I don’t even have a room for myself and share it with strangers or friends. Being with people all the time can be exhausting and cause aggression which is a big issue for borderlines. We hold a lot of tension in ourselves which can result in bursting out. Keeping your short temper is a really difficult exercise but it’s necessary and possible. We are able to rearrange the connections between neurons and every time we choose to not react impulsively we change. Meditation is a great way to release all the emotions we tend to suck deeper and deeper into our consciousness. It doesn’t need to be every day or for a long time, even 12 minutes can make a difference.
3. Respect yourself
Can someone with borderline personality disorder have a healthy relationship? Yes they can, it’s just a matter of practice of self-love and self-respect. Borderliners tend to fear abandonment which results in rather staying with people who are toxic for you than letting them go. You have to always remember that you deserve to be happy and treated with respect. Choose your travel mates wisely and watch out for ‘red flags’. Of course, we never know a person until they show us their real face and it’s not your fault when you fall for a fake mask. However, at the moment you realize a person is using or abusing you, you need the strength to keep a distance. When you are traveling with friends, arguments can occur, but it is important to still be able to communicate in a polite way and if that is not the case, you should think twice if it’s worth staying with toxic people or rather doing your own thing. Even if you are traveling by yourself, you are actually never alone. You will always meet people somehow, date people, work with them, make friends or even find a romance. Never forget you are worthy of love and no one has the right to oppress you and that is why you have to set boundaries. Never ever let someone yell at you, prohibit you to do something or insult you. Tell them instantly that’s not how you want to be treated and try to keep a distance.
4. Be yourself
Why is borderline disorder bad? Many of us think having a personality disorder is ‘bad’. I don’t think so, I would rather look at it as a challenge to grow or something that makes us unique. Don’t feel like you’re unworthy or a bad person because you suffer from a mental illness, don’t ever be afraid of being yourself. Embrace yourself! Use your traits to make connections with people. Because we know how pain feels like we can have deep empathy and sensitivity and this is what we should use to help others in need. Find like-minded people, people that have similar life stories, people that understand your deepest pain and people that share your special craziness.
5. Take care
To be honest with you I’m not a perfect example of a healthy and safe travel lifestyle. Sometimes I don’t care what can happen to me, maybe sometimes I even wish for something bad. Borderliners tend to have impulsive risky behavior which can mean a lot of things. Spending money you don’t have, overdo drugs, engage in risky sex. And yes all of these things I've already done. My friends always tell me to take care, I heard these two little but powerful words so often from all over the world it became my mantra for survival. Take care of yourself; use condoms, eat healthily and if you do drugs make sure you have a friend who’s watching you. Traveling is risky, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. Even if you hitchhike, couchsurf or go out to parties, there are little things you can do to be safe. Having friends knowing where you are, have a power bank with you in case your phone dies, asking strangers for help when you are lost. And when you are traveling on a budget you really can’t allow yourself to spend money unnecessarily, always ask yourself if you really need to buy something, if you can survive without it or lend it from someone.
6. Be grateful and move
What does Borderline personality disorder feel like? Unstable, empty, hurt, alone, intense, rapid, evil. Just a few words to throw in the unsatisfying room full of nobody. Traveling constantly is the only thing that made me truly happy. But my depression will always follow me wherever I go and it already caught me sometimes in the most beautiful moments. Whenever my dearest friend from hell pays me a visit I try to focus on the positive things, because there is so much to be grateful for. However, it’s never about what you have or don’t have it’s just that void that you cover up temporary. Whenever you feel it’s coming I want you to write down everything you are grateful for. And then you have to take action, moving can mean a lot of things, maybe you need some fresh air, do Yoga or some stretching, put on your favorite music and dance it out or do a workout. Sport is very important to keep your brain releasing dopamine and serotonin and I assure you, you will feel better afterward. That’s why Fitness is so important to me, it's basically one of my survival tools to stuff that hole inside me.
I hope my tips will help some people with mental health issues who still want to take the risk of backpacking around the world. For me, it was the best decision right after the decision to go vegan and I would do it again and again even if it's not easy sometimes. I am grateful for every moment of happiness, pleasure, laughter, peace.