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Jess’ It’s awkward but moment

November 27, 2019

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It’s awkward but I had to see a psychologist before going travelling on a three week trip to South America.

It wasn’t just a case of travel anxiety and nerves. Two years prior I planned for a big open ended trip around the world and it went horribly wrong. There are many reasons why it didn’t work and lots of detail to the story (it’s a whole blog post in itself!) but I put too much pressure on myself, suffered from sleep deprivation and while overseas for a very short time went through severe panic attacks and upon returning home, I had a psychotic episode. It took a month recovery in hospital and a long time with lots of support from others and myself to get better following the experience.

Despite a horrible experience, I didn’t lose my love for travel! I just realised that I have to learn to travel and live my life in a way that suits me and accounts for my previous history with anxiety. I also learnt that I don’t want to travel alone and that’s okay. In preparation for my trip to Machu Picchu with my brother, one of my biggest supporters and closest friends, I had to still unpack the burden of guilt and shame I felt from my previous experience.

My psychologist was amazing and words will never express how grateful I am for her. She said that I was suffering from post-traumatic stress from the experience I went through and with her I went back and we discussed what happened, the many reasons behind it and the psychology of what I went through. She helped me to accept my experience and no longer feel ashamed. It was through talking to her and practising self-care that she recommended, simple things such as going on regular walks and doing yoga, that I could let go of the burden of guilt and shame and feel the lightest I ever have in my life.

I also had the best time in Peru after with my brother hiking up to Machu Picchu! The trip in itself was one of my most healing experiences and I am so glad I sought help beforehand to mentally prepare myself for the trip. I hiked up mountains, met people from all around the world and learnt so much about myself, my limitations, but also my strengths. I am thankful towards myself that I conquered my own judgements about seeing a psychologist to prepare for my trip, two years after my experience, and that I allowed myself to let go of the guilt and shame.

I am now preparing for a round the world trip with my boyfriend and having regular appointments with my psychologist to mentally prepare myself and have the best experience I can. Seeking help was the best decision I ever made.