After returning from Amsterdam in November, my mental health was at a low. My father is from the Netherlands, and by visiting there without him, I was smacked with a wave of homesickness and sadness. I have been diagnosed with anxiety and depression. These diagnoses do not control my life, nor do they control me. However, some days they do affect how I live my life. Mental illnesses do not disappear when you are abroad. No matter how happy you are, or how comfortable you feel, mental illness, like any physical illness, can sneak up on you. Depression and anxiety don’t go on vacation just because you are in Scotland (this, of course, applies to wherever you are).
My best advice is to manage your mental illness exactly the same way as you do at home. If you go to the gym to relieve anxiety, do the same while abroad. While it may be tempting to travel a lot, get less sleep, or anything of that sort – your coping skills from home need to be applied while abroad in order to maintain good mental health. Being abroad, no matter how prepared you are, will be hard at sometimes. But you can do it. I did. I have had an absolutely wonderful time while abroad, despite my anxiety, and bouts of depression.
When I am in a bad place mentally, I make sure I reach out to people near me. I text them to let them know that I am okay, but also as a way to hold myself accountable. For me, the best way to emerge from a depressive state is to spend time with my friends. I laugh, smile, and cry with them until I feel human again. I also bake a lot. And then, at some point, the clouds clear – and I feel better. You will too. You got this.