The mind is our greatest battlefield!
So, everyone who travels in an RV must be happy and fulfilled every day, right? Does the sun always shine brightly?
I know I’m not the only person who has chosen the travel lifestyle but still battles with anxiety, depression, and/or other mental health issues. (And how many of us battle physical health issues? spiritual health issues? emotional health issues? relationship health issues? etc.)
Just like the sky is not always sunny, so too we as human beings don’t always have internal sunshine. Some days there’s clouds, or wind, or rain, or tornadoes/hurricanes/major storms. Some days are dark and we struggle to get through the day…hour…the next 5 minutes.
Part of the reason I chose to full-time RV is that I was struggling with a full time job in the midst of some serious anxiety, and bouts of depression. I have suffered from these battles off and on for most of my life. At times I have needed to turn to medications and therapies, and it’s a smart person who recognizes when the red flags are waving and gets outside help. Most of the time, though, I have ridden the waves pretty well with self-monitoring. However, in 2016 I found myself struggling more and more with anxiety and depression, and while medication and therapy were helpful it just wasn’t enough. I felt my work performance was slipping and it was increasingly difficult to show up every day and concentrate. Just the thought of a meeting or a snowstorm or just going up the staircase with coworkers often sent me into a panic attack. I tried going back on anti-anxiety medication but hated how my brain turned to mush – also not good for work performance.
Then, I was in a minor fender bender and several days later awoke to incredible vertigo and could not drive, or barely walk down a hall without my world spinning, which lasted for months. I tried, for a few months, to do my work from home remotely, thanks to a wonderful manager. But while the anxiety symptoms abated when I was away, a phone call or an on-site meeting would dump me right back into anxiety for days before and days after. So I came to a critical point: If I needed medication in order to do my job, and that medication messed with my brain, did I want to continue that route?
During the early part of 2016, I had decided to purchase an old van to renovate into a solo camper for vacations and possibly as a “tiny home”. I moved into the van I found on Craigslist and renovated while living in it at my son’s home (see other blog posts for more info). During this time I was battling the depression and anxiety, and then the vertigo. Within weeks, due to the decreased stress of no rent, etc., and the fresh air of van camping, and working remotely, and other external circumstances changing, I found the depression was lifting. The vertigo was handled with an OTC medication as needed, and it lessened bit by bit. The anxiety, though, was still kicking my butt.
By August of 2016, I felt my best choice for good health was to resign from my job and begin full time RV travel with some type of part time work to support the traveling. While it was difficult to resign from a job which I really enjoyed and paid decently, I didn’t want to continue with a medicated lifestyle. Now, seven months later, I am medication-free, depression-free, and almost completely anxiety-free.
I know from experience that depression and anxiety are life-long battles for me, and for many folks. A concern of my family/friends is that I am off traveling alone – Would I slide into depression without my support system (family and friends)? Would I let my health deteriorate and no one would notice? Would I hole up in a campsite somewhere and not take care of myself? Yes, these are valid concerns for those who love me! I don’t fight their loving concern, but I also don’t let that concern make decisions for me.
My red flags are familiar to me, and I mitigate those symptoms by a few simple daily routines:
*Complete B vitamins – sustained release
*Outdoor exercise (simple walking 20+ minutes)
*Journaling, creative stuff
Due to the freedom of the RV lifestyle, I can be alone or get together with people according to how I feel at any given time. I don’t have a schedule or deadlines. I purposely “go with the flow” instead of making a hard-and-fast itinerary. If I choose to spend a day in bed reading, that’s okay. If I want to visit someone, that’s okay. If I just want to sit at a beach and stare at the surf, that’s okay. If I want to walk in the woods, that’s okay. If I want to eat at a restaurant surrounded by chatter, that’s okay.
Since I do need to fund my travels, I work a few days a week for a few hours. The schedule is mine to book, and the work is not stressful for me. If I start to get anxious, I can take a break – I am only required to work 7.5 hours a week. All I do is spend 1/2 hour at a time with a Chinese child online speaking English with the teaching PowerPoint provided. (See other blogs for work information).
Not everyone is as fortunate as I am, and this lifestyle choice would not work for everyone. If I find myself not doing well for a couple of weeks and not able to rise above those dark days, then I would head to family for support and reconsideration of what is best at that time. But for now, this is working for me and I am happy and content with my choices. I like having a clear head, and enjoying the fresh air and freedom of the camping life.
Do you have a battle you are fighting? What steps are you taking towards health? How are you coping? Hey, just being honest with each other can go a long way to making a difference. I bared my soul…doesn’t hurt and it might help someone else! Feel free to share…
From the bookshelf:
“There are two truisms about a person. The first is that they do not change. The second is that they do not remain the same.”
—Aspen Allegations by Lisa Shea, 2013
Please remember, if you are ordering online via Amazon/Audible and would click through the link at the end of this post, I will make a small commission to help fund my travels. (no additional cost to you) –Thanks!