Cruise ship, California, April 2017
I have been away for most of this month. I took a much-needed vacation on a cruise ship that traveled the California coast. Something that would have been impossible for me to do six months ago was suddenly attainable. I survived.
Here are things I enjoyed about the journey, and helped me heal: being away from stress and responsibility. Spending time with people I cared about. Being around others (more difficult to think dark thoughts). Eating lots of delicious food. Swimming and going on long walks every single day. The feeling of the ship’s engine and the swaying of the boat lulling me gently to sleep every night. Warm, dry, sunny weather. Getting to see places that I have only ever dreamed about seeing. Listening to classical concerts on the ship and letting the music sweep me away.
Here are things that stressed me out: Feeling bored and restless during the late afternoons on the ship. The constant crowds: oh my lord were there crowds, everywhere. Having to wait in line all the dang time. Really boring rich old people on the ship. Worrying that I wasn’t enjoying myself “enough.”
But I made it. I came back a bit tired, mostly relaxed, and more confident in my ability to navigate the world and survive outside of my routine (something I find very stressful). I did enjoy being spoiled a bit, and having everyone wait on me hand and foot, although not without a lot of guilt over my first world privilege. (I at least treated the staff with courtesy, unlike a lot of my fellow passengers).
I didn’t feel a lot of creative energy on the ship and I couldn’t muster up too many daydreams. The closest I got was having a cocktail in one of the lounges while listening to classical music and pretending I was in an Agatha Christie mystery. But I did form memories that will provide inspiration for the future. Plus, I got to see dolphins playing one morning alongside the ship!
Before my husband and I left, we got our house ready for sale. It was an extremely anxiety and depression-inducing week before the trip, as travel always makes me anxious and selling one’s house is no picnic. This week has been stressful, too. I’m still jet-lagged and haven’t been able to spend time in the house because of all the viewings.
There is also the anticipatory anxiety of moving, which has been plaguing me ever since the start of my mental health episode. Part of the reason I am moving is to get away from my current work/life situation and return to my hometown after ten years of being away. I already have a job lined up (which happened for me on my trip) so that at least is a weight off my shoulders.
I am also slowly weaning myself off my medication. I was initially hesitant to get off it at all, thinking I was better off just taking it forever. But at my doctor’s advice I am going off it at a glacial pace. I am currently at 5 mgs every other day, down from 10 every day this winter, and I plan on spacing them out to every three days soon. At first going to a half dose was horrible. I felt a similar level of anxiety to what I felt in the fall, with racing thoughts, nightmares, flu-like symptoms, etc. Now at least I know what is going on and am able to account for it. The transitioning gets easier every day.
I will be glad when my house sells and I don’t have to worry about strangers traipsing through my house all the time. I have to keep trying to carve out relax time for myself, but it is difficult. Sometimes all I get is a quick nighttime bath or ten minutes with the bunnies.