When I stepped into the plane from Berlin to Bangkok with my backpack, I did not think that it would take me almost a year and a half to come back home. And neither did I expect that instead of souvenirs I would have a depression in my luggage. Traveling is wonderful. Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Australia, Singapore, Cambodia. An unforgettable time. How can it be hard to come back with all these happy memories in your heart? And somehow, most of us travellers feel the same way.
The post-travel-depression is real. It is a typical phenomenon that surprises many people when they return home from their first journey overseas. Returning back to the “old life” is difficult, if not impossible. As Alice in wonderland already said: I cannot go back to yesterday, because I am a different person now.
Post-travel depression – a psychological disorder
In therapy, this would be called an adjustment disorder. But knowing about that did not help me at all. When I arrived back in Berlin, everything felt strange. Feeling like a foreigner in a distant country is a feeling that everyone can understand. Foreign at home? How does that work? I did not even want to listen to the German language, my mother tongue, anymore. How was that possible? What happened to the happiness?
Adjusting to the daily life
I am back in Germany for more than two years already. I found a flat and got a job. It took me six to get there. It was not easy. And feelings of depression still overcome me. “This is not what I want for my life”. A common thought. Being stuck here. “I do not want my life this way. I want to travel.” This thought was in my head so many times. And still it is. Yes, I am here again, I have re-established myself. I can laugh again, I can see the small things that makes you happy. But this thought always comes back into my head. “I do not want my life this way. Not this life. I want to travel again”. I am not a damn tree. I am a traveler.
When your heart cries
The post-travel-depression seems like an escape from hopelessness. Depression does not bring me back to traveling or any closer to my dream to life. But depression creates a lack of feeling, it kills dreams. If there is no dream there is nothing to fight for, right? Not only does depression deprive you of the power to work, fight, dare, hope for your dream. It takes away your dreams and leaves a black hole instead. It took me six month to free myself from the post-travel-depression. One reason why it took so long is probably, that I arrived in winter in Berlin. Barely any light, super cold and grey. Not the best start to re-adjust. And another reason is, that I did not believe I could afford traveling for such a long time ever again in my life. I did not dare to fight for my dream. All I could do was crying. And sleeping.
The power of dreaming
Having a dream of traveling the world an being stuck home with a post-travel-depression is horrible. I could not stand it. I booked a flight ticket. Just a short get-away. And when I traveled again, I felt better. Just a little bit. Traveling brings me back to life, my everyday life makes me depressed. Travel bug. Once it is there, you cannot get rid of it anymore. Traveling changed me so much. Accepting these changes and dealing with it took a while for me. I am still not able to travel for a long time period at the moment. But at least, I am exploring Europe now. There are so many cheap flights to everywhere and even busses, trains and shared cars. One get-away every month is my medicine against depression. Italy, France, Portugal. Every time I am exploring a new place, I prove myself that I can do it. That there is no reason to be scared of following your dream.
Coming home is part of the journey. Coming home is hard and challenging. But we learn so much about ourselves by going through this hard time. We grow and come out even stronger than before.