A few months after moving back in with Landon in Edmonton and re-phasing back into a relationship with him, I got a text one day saying “Hey, let’s go to Asia”, and I replied with, “okay”.
The Birthday Gift(s)/Early Inspiration
For my 20th birthday Landon gifted me with two things: a 32L backpack and a Pandora bracelet with some significant charms on it. These gifts were given a few months prior to our spontaneous decision to travel to Asia but almost acted as a hint as to what was to come in the future.
When I first got the backpack I was little uncertain because at this time I didn’t consider myself to be too much of an avid hiker and I wasn’t quite sure what exactly I was going to do with this bag. Little would I know that this bag would end up being THE ONLY item I took with me on our two and a half month trip to Asia. It became my life and I’ve carried it with me on every hiking trip I’ve been on since. It’s became a very important part of me and encourages me to get outside and explore!
I also got surprised with a Pandora bracelet that I had been bugging about for a little while. The charms of course are what make the bracelet so special though:
Turtle- to symbolize me because he knows how much I love sea turtles
Bird- to symbolize him because he’s always said “If you’re a bird, I’m a bird”. The Notebook was the first movie he ever suggested I watch back when we were just good friends in grade 12.
The World- to symbolize travel and placed between the Turtle and the Bird to symbolize togetherness no matter where we are in the World.
Pre-Asia Mental State
Prior to Landon returning back into my life I had made the choice to apply to a nursing program in Edmonton to begin in January. I was accepted & I thought I was ready for it at the time. When Landon came back into my life however, he talked to me about traveling and whether returning back to school was really what I wanted. And so….my thoughts started running. His argument was valid and I couldn’t argue it. Going to school would mean more debt & It could also mean that in 4-5 years I might end up not getting my opportunity to travel especially because career and educational opportunities would inevitably pop up while I was on that path. I called my Mom and she was pretty supportive in the matter of me wanting to travel rather than going back to school although, I do not think she thought I was serious that I was going to travel in the near future at that time. I ended up withdrawing from the Nursing program for the 3rd time.
The Dark Cloud of Depression
In the 4 months leading up to our spontaneous decision to backpack Asia, I was in a dark state. I didn’t start school in January as I had been planning for the past 6 months, I felt lost, especially because this was my third time backing out of returning to school. I felt like just when I had myself figured out, Landon came back into my life and all of my plans went out the window again. I never knew what depression felt like until I was experiencing it. The best way to describe it for me, is a dark, suffocating hole in which you see no light or escape. I did not enjoy anything, I did’t want to have the usual optimistic, upbeat conversations that Landon and I have always had in our relationship. I didn’t enjoy being kissed, I didn’t want to be touched. I had no intimate desire and I was tired all of the time. I was a real downer and made it really hard for Landon to be my partner. I understood exactly how I was acting and how it was also affecting Landon but I had not a single clue on how to not be that way. This would also make me feel worse because I’ve never wanted something so bad than to feel better and to be a happy, excited person but I felt like I didn’t know how. It put quite a bit of strain on the relationship and I really thought I would never feel better. Looking back on it now, I cannot believe I had thoughts that maybe not existing would be the only way I would not feel that way anymore. I didn’t really reach out to friends about my feelings because I felt like I hid it pretty well at work and in social situations but Landon was there through it all.
Helping Someone Going Through Depression
Understandably everyone is going to have different needs when they are going through a dark time but I think the only real thing I needed was patience and support. I didn’t want food or outings or activities to cheer me up, I wanted to cry, scream, be miserable and have someone there who was patient with me until I got through it, I used Landon as my punching bag and I know it was incredibly difficult on him. I also did not know (because you are in darkness and you seriously feel as if it will never end) if I would ever stop using him as a punching bag. The most important thing by far was someone who didn’t walk away and give up on me as I know many family & friends often do to people who are depressed because they are so difficult to handle. I can promise you being that person for someone can save them. I never had any through plans to commit suicide but when you are in that state of that mind, I understand why people think that suicide is the only option. There are lots of options today and I am happy to report that I no longer feel this way. With this being said, depression is something that is VERY easy to slip back into and it happens to everyone in every situation.
Asia Mental Health Therapy?
Maybe one of the reasons I was so down for a spontaneous Asia adventure was my depressive state. I felt like travelling to Asia might help me get out of my depression. To escape from my problems and negativity in the place where I was. I will write further about this when I talk more about my trip to Asia. I learned in the end that you cannot escape depression by physically running away from it. You need to MENTALLY run away from depression. I write a lot about this in my travel journal I took with me to Asia and will share some of those entries later!
Quitting my Job to Travel
I never thought that I would ever be in a position in which I was quitting a job to travel to another Continent. You don’t realize how challenging that might be until you’re there in the moment. I had originally planned on going to school in Edmonton for nursing in January as I mentioned earlier, but instead I decided I could go to school at any time but traveling young and in good health is an opportunity that I might not always have. Since Asia was so spontaneous I had to quit my job immediately in order to give a proper two weeks notice. I wish I could have quit the day of and got on a plane to Asia that day but ethically, I do not believe in leaving jobs without proper. I had a one way ticket with Landon to Cambodia and we had no idea when we would be returning. Since this was the case keeping my job was clearly not an option as workplaces generally require a commitment or return dates. I was unhappy with the organization I was working at during this time anyways so it was more of a relief to leave than anything.
The Backlash & Negative Vibes that came with my Decision to Travel
There are always going to be those people in your life that take your awesome opportunity & try to push their negativity onto it because they have so much of it within themselves to share. Here are some phrases I heard regularly and my responses:
- But Asia is so dangerous -So is Edmonton.. and the rest of the world. Don’t be stupid and out in unfamiliar places alone and in the dark, that’s common sense anywhere.
- Yeah, but do you really want to go to Asia or are you just going for him? -Going to Asia is a big deal, affects my life and choices quite a bit so yes I am going for me, thank you for your faith in my Independence though
- Don’t get Malaria… I know someone’s friend’s friend who got sick there –Being raised in Western Society where we have been immunized since birth we are actually protected from most things, that being said sickness does happen to travelers, but this a consequence you acknowledge when you travel, I took precautions of course but when it comes down to it, I refuse to live a life in my safe westernized society and miss out on our amazing world because I might sick. Living in fear is also sickness a lot of the Western Society lives with.
- Can you afford that? –I will blog about this later…
- You’re quitting your job? (insert super judgy face) –Yup, if that’s what I have to do to have the opportunity to see the world, hell ya I am. Jobs come and go, opportunities to travel don’t come by so easily so see yuh later!
I will let you know that I happily returned from Asia after two and a half months with money in the bank, free of malaria, with work waiting for me and without being murdered, raped or assaulted. People and especially management tied down in workplaces are going to belittle you for making choices that they are envious of. Your true friends and great employers are going to encourage these opportunities for you. I have dealt with both kinds & I still have a great working relationship with the last big company that I worked for, even after leaving multiple times. The right people in your life will acknowledge what’s best for you and will not take your choices personally. If negativity is thrown your way, just try not to take it personally, realize that these people have their own issues with themselves and get on with your plans!!
- Take opportunities if they are available to you to travel- do not fear thoughts and judgement from other peers and employers. If travelling is something you want to do, you need to do it.
- Depression is a scary place, if you’re in it, seek help, be patient and talk about. I hate to say the sickening phrase we all hear so often- but IT WILL GET BETTER.
- Someone who is depressed is seriously going to believe ending their life is their best and sometimes only option, don’t judge them if that’s how they feel, instead encourage patience, don’t disclude them from activities or outings and seek professional help if they seem like they might actually be at danger to themselves
- If you know someone who is going through depression, the worst thing you can do is give up on them . No matter how much strain it’s putting on the relationship or friendship try to stick with this person until they get out of it, with that being said there is more that needs to be done like professional help if it is seriously too much for you to deal with
- Travel if it means quitting your job
- Don’t let other people’s negative opinions deter you from doing what you want to do. The most important person is YOU and the decisions that are BEST FOR YOU.
- Take risks. I have never taken one that I didn’t either enjoy every second of or learn a great life lesson from.
Hope you enjoyed the read! Take care of yourselves & Go do you!! Xx.