European Travels: Part 2

I can’t believe how far I’ve progressed since starting my therapy sessions in May. I remember the first month I felt elated and overwhelmed with all of the challenges that lay ahead. I vividly remember, the meltdowns that I was unable to control and feeling like a failure to my therapist and myself. I would sit there with my notes and watch guiltily as she assessed them. I’d expected her to think I was bat shit but she never reacted in such a way. She would delve deeper into the meltdowns and figure out the reasons behind them and go on to help me recognise the triggers for the future.

Months before my planned road trip to Europe I wasn’t excited for it, if anything I felt anxious about it. All I could think about was ruining it all with meltdowns or my insecurities running wild. I have always felt that people stare at me because of many reasons that I have branded into my mind. I never felt comfortable in my own skin. I avoided crowded places if I could. I’d cover my body when relaxing at the beach. I was conscious of people’s thoughts of me.

So in the build up to the trip my therapist K taught me how to eradicate my previous rules to prevent meltdowns. I was given homework each week where I would complete a list of points that make me a good person and was encouraged to think these through daily. K taught me how to read the signs of a potential meltdown and how to stop and think before reacting, which wasn’t necessary. I always needed answers. If I come across a problem in my mind I’d have to solve it but with depression there were some things I was unable to solve on my own. Having K answer them lifted a huge weight and enabled me to declutter and enjoy the time away.

When it was time for us to embark on our road trip I unknowingly at the time felt prepared. I organised some of our day trips in such a way that I wouldn’t feel exhausted too soon in the day and could enjoy each day with as little stress as possible. I was automatically taking on a new leaf in life without being aware. I was taking control over my life…

The holiday started off a little bumpy with a mixture of feelings of homesickness and loneliness. Strangely enough, driving to another country made me feel even further away from home than if I were to fly. After a few days I settled and those feelings were long forgotten. I explored each city with an open mind and realised half way through our trip that my guard had slipped. I was happy and excitable. I found myself on beaches and lakes in my swimsuit unaware of others. I relaxed completely and discovered a new found confidence in myself. I walked through the streets ignoring my insecurities and genuinely had an amazing experience.

One of the most memorable moments for me was when we drove from Geneva to Belgium. We stopped somewhere in France for a nap in the car. It was 4am and I couldn’t sleep so I decided to walk around the car park, find somewhere to sit and star gaze. I’d never seen so many stars so clearly. The best part being I could see the Great Rift. I’ve always wanted to be able to see it but could never see it in the UK. I sat there for ages taking in something I knew I wouldn’t see again for a while.

Other memorable moments were driving past the Pyrenees most days and seeing the beautiful terracotta houses with Mediterranean plants. I loved seeing the lavender farms and the many vineyards too. I was also very excited driving past the CERN head quarters in Geneva. Although some of the driving seemed tedious at times, I’ll miss the breathtaking scenery that I won’t be able to see in the UK.

Overall I’m rather proud of myself for having just one meltdown during the holiday! I kept a clear mind throughout the holiday and embraced each moment. I pushed myself this time. I sat in crowded bars and tried new foods. I thought before reacting. I told myself to remain calm in moments I’d normally lose myself in. I can’t believe I’ve actually listened to my therapist and taken charge of my life. I feel like a changed woman.

 


I’ll always yearn to explore. There’s something about travelling that sets you free, the map reading and unpredictable path of wonder. Picking up on the different traditions and cultures stays with you forever. I’ve always felt that desire to discover all of the world’s hidden treasures. The need to find the beauty where you least expect it and have the privilege to see as much of the world as possible. I love picking up on the different traditions and cultures.

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