“Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.”
– Walt Whitman
When we were gifted a holiday to Greece by a family member back in November it seemed so far off but we felt so grateful. By the time we left it was almost five years since the last time we had been overseas for a holiday. Such a long time for people who thrive on travelling and would rather spend time living out of a suitcase than in any kind of ‘normal’ life.
As I said recently this was going to be a difficult trip for me, my social anxiety has been running rampant and I wasn’t sure how I was going to handle the social situations such as the airport and being on a plane full of people (odd when flying is one of my favourite things)!
I did have a panic attack in the airport on the way out, but overall my medication helped me keep a lid on the worst of my anxiety. We arrived at 1am so it was straight to bed, the next day I felt nervous and we had a quiet day around the hotel to ease in gently. This gave me time to relax by the pool and do some reading. What I found was that I became very relaxed and the person I was 15yrs ago when I lived in Greece started to emerge.
The more relaxed, happy, social me, who didn’t worry so much and smiled easily. The longer I was there the more at home I felt. I started to remember what it felt like to be surrounded by the Greek people day after day, week after week. How waking up every day to beaming sunshine and heat makes you feel and I started to feel it.
I’m not a sunbather, I can’t sit in the sun for long periods of time, not least because I’m allergic to almost every sunscreen going (I have to buy the only one I’ve found I’m not allergic to mail order)! Without that sunscreen I blister, so I’m not someone who lazes in the sun trying for the deepest darkest tan going! I hide in the shade and wear big hats, and my sunscreen is the highest SPF I can get, and even with that I burn! But I love walking, and I will occasionally dip my toe in the sea or pool.
I found myself gaining far more energy than I’ve had in ages, eating well and consuming twice as much water as usual (this is all I drink other than the occasional herbal tea – I’m odd like that)! We walked miles every day and visited historical sites and beautiful villages. We even took a ferry to another island one day.
The whole time I was away I only had trouble with my Bipolar rapid cycling once. I had one day where I was struggling with my moods and needed additional medication and that was because of an issue back home! I remembered how when I had lived in Greece I hadn’t needed any medication, the only time in my adult life I’ve been able to live medication free.
This trip rejuvenated me, and as I sit here today writing this I’m reminded how we wanted to move to Australia, to be somewhere with more Sun time, that could set me on a better path with my mental health, has better career prospects with what I’m trained for and would be a great step forward. But then I’m reminded how close we both are to the 40yrs visa cut off, how we don’t have savings behind us and the fact I have a mental illness.
I need to ride on the coat tails of this short holiday for as long as I can, UK summers just don’t last long enough or provide enough sun to boost my batteries and I know a crash could be imminent. I want to enjoy this feeling while it lasts and get as much recovery progressed as I can in this time.