Travel Paralysis

I arrive in a new city. I check in and settle into my accommodations. The bed looks nice. I lie down and it feels nice, too. I look out of the window at a bustling, beautiful city that I’m thrilled to explore. But then my heart starts picking up its pace,  I begin sweating, clutch hard to the bed side and bury my face in the pillow. The excited thoughts drain from my mind as they’re replaced with fears, rational at first, but quickly they become irrational:

What if I get lost? Oh, I’ll definitely get lost. Someone will probably rob me and then kidnap me. No, maybe I’ll meet some cool people. Of course not. I don’t know how to meet people. I don’t hostelknow how to make friends. I didn’t even pack the right clothes. There’s no way I’ll have fun. I’m such an idiot for leaving home and coming here all alone. The world is such a sad and grotesque place. Why did I bother to go see more of it? There are wars going on, you know. What if terrorists decide to attack this city tomorrow?  I’m going to get blown to pieces. That’s it. I’m going home. But I don’t really have anything good at home anyway… And down, and down, and down the thoughts go.

This is typically how the first 24 hours goes after I travel to a new place, at least until I drag myself outside to the nearest cafe, have a tea and a pastry and eventually pull myself together.

Traveling solo when you suffer from depression and anxiety seems like a bad idea. But I decided to do it anyway.

When I started apartment shopping in Spokane a little while after graduating from college, I purposely picked one with no lease agreement so I could leave when I felt it was time. After about 10 months, I packed up all my possessions, shoved them in a storage unit and grabbed my backpack. I had landed a job on a fish processing ship heading to Alaska for the summer salmon season. In the fall, I stayed and worked on the ship while it was at port in Seattle. And once winter came, I got a volunteer position on a non-profit hospital ship in Madagascar. I’m here on this picturesque, particularly hot and immensely humid island nation now, and I plan to stay nomadic for the foreseeable future. I decided it was well passed time to start writing things down.

So, here I go. These are my adventures and these are the things that rattle and rage inside my head.