Seaneen is the three-quarter sized Irish writer behind The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive blog. In her spare time she enjoys tea, hurling insults at the television and tutting at those who tut at others on public transport. She lives in London with two cats and eight million other people.
A holiday survival guide for the mentally interesting.
14th August 2009
Holidays are, by their nature, breaks away from normal life, unless your normal life involves room service. But as well as having a hotel door for “Do Not Disturb”, they should also give you one to hang up which says “UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES MUST YOU BE DEPRESSED OR IN ANY WAY MOROSE OR STRANGE”. The rules dictate that you must be happy. And as we often go on holiday with families, lovers or friends, the pressure to be happy is more acute than in our ordinary lives, where we have our favourite corners to hide away in if need be.
There are medications to (forget) to take, appointments to attend, sleep to catch, jobs to go to (or not), alcohol to (sort of) avoid and so on and on and bloomin' on. In general, in order to not be tutted at by your doctor, you have to behave.
Routine, coupled with avoiding stress, is often cited as being one of the best lifestyle adjustments you can make if you suffer from mental illness. Unfortunately, routine tends to wave cheerily at you from the skidding tarmac of the airport runway as you leave for your well earned break. There's late nights, early mornings, excess drinking, eating out, people to see, ruins to visit, crabs to eat and starry-eyed sighing to be done. The little things, like taking care of yourself and being well behaved, tend to fall by the wayside somewhat.
little low or anxious, I let whomever I’m with know in a gentle way, so I don’t sit in silence feeling terribly guilty and forcing a rictus grin.
I attempt, with varying degrees of success, to abandon all my worries before leaving home. I drink if I feel like doing so, eat a little more than I usually would, and try to embrace this break from my day to day reality - even if it’s just being amused by the different regional news programmes on TV in the hotel room.
Maybe the best way to deal with holiday stress is to throw yourself into your days away as much as you can, whether it’s a relaxing short break or a wild week. But if you don’t feel able to, there’s no point in being hard on yourself.
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