Yesterday I posted about how a recent vacation to New Orleans was enjoyable, but also exhausting, maybe even down right draining. It might seem counter-intuitive. How could I enjoy something that triggered my anxiety and drained me like that? So, I thought I’d use today’s post to explain.
First and foremost, anxiety sucks. I mean it really sucks. Imagine walking through life where casual interactions, such as ordering coffee or going through the drive-thru, stresses you out. Imagine rethinking every minute and every action you take because you are sure that you fucked something up and your impostor syndrome convinces you that it is just a matter of time until people realize just how much of a fuck-up you are. Then multiply that by all the little interactions that go with modern travel. Yes, everyone has doubts, but this constant draining doubt, doubt that goes beyond normal, logical worries, is part of what defines anxiety, bringing about an all encompassing fatigue. And I say fuck you to that fatigue, fuck you to anxiety.
Okay, not really, because there are still plenty of times that anxiety wins and I hide in my house with a good book or Netflix. Yet I push myself to do things like take vacations because when I look back I don’t usually remember the anxiety. I remember the different culture I got to experience, the good times I had while on that vacation. And so, while the restorative effects of vacation might not be immediate for me, they nevertheless exist once I get enough perspective to remove anxiety from the picture.
And more than just the memories, I get something else. Every time I leave my house, and especially every time I take a big trip like I did this past weekend, I win a small victory over my anxiety because I didn’t let it win. And while the anxiety and depression may color my experience, that victory is nevertheless fuel for the next fight.
Because that is what vacation is. And that is what each victory against mental illness is. Fuel for the next fight. And demons be damned, I’m still going to live my life, because those demons aren’t going anywhere, so I’m going to need a lot of fuel for all that fight.