Travelling made me realise that my mental illness does not define me

This article was created for The Travel Project by Bailey Horvath, a travel hungry, experience loving adult with a great outlook on life.

Travelling is by far the most awesome thing someone could ever do for themselves. I'm a travel addict. But I didn't anticipate that travel would help me feel powerful again after a difficult time in my life...

Often in life, we’re thrown these massive curve balls that really make or break you as a person. About a year and a half ago, I was in an awful teenage relationship with someone for 3 years, who was very emotionally abusive – and sometimes, out of frustration, physically abusive. Nobody tells you how hard it is to leave a relationship with someone when you’re already dealing with emotional distress.

RELATED: POST BREAK-UP TRAVEL IS THE NEW WAY TO GET OVER YOUR EX

When I was 14 years old, I was diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety. The thing about mental illness is that the stigma often causes people to push aside what they’re truly feeling, just to avoid feeling embarrassed or judged. However, I don’t regret what happened to me, nor do I have any resentment or hate towards my ex.

The experience taught me so much about myself, even I know now that I have so much strength inside me. A big part of what helped me to find my strength is travel.

I took my very first trip all by myself this year, which I thought was pretty badass considering the circumstances – but it’s also how I discovered Contiki. My mom had told me that she heard of Contiki, and had asked me to look into it so I’d have a little more structure on my first alone trip to Europe. Let me start off by saying it was truly the best thing I ever did for myself.

RELATED: CONTIKI HELPED ME RE-DISCOVER WHO I REALLY AM 

I did the Amstersam to Barcelona trip, and met so many cool people. It’s pretty much a massive road trip with amazing people you’ve never met before and honestly, I don’t think it gets any better then that. I’ve created friendships that’ll last forever. In fact, how cool is it to say I have friends in New Zealand or Africa? That’s something you don’t get to hear often.

Severe-disease-mother-daughter-Europe

This trip helped me realize that I can do anything, and my independence is through the roof. Contiki helps make traveling solo a little less nerve racking, but still helps you to do all the things you wanted to do. I finished off my Europe trip with my mom, touring Italy. My new found independence did not stop me from missing my mom. She and I learnt so many things about each other on this trip, which helped us really bond and become closer then ever. It’s an experience i’ll never forget.

I could go on and on about this trip, but what I mostly learned was that my mental illness does not define me.

Travelling helped me realize that I am so much stronger than I thought, and I don’t need anyone to tell me otherwise. Some days may be worse than others, but I know now that I have the tools to get through life. To my contiki family, you guys rock. You have no idea how you changed my life for the better. To my family, thank you for taking me different places every year and nurturing my desire to seek what’s out there. My travel experience may be short, but i’m just getting started.

Has travel helped you to overcome a difficult experience? Share your stories with us here and you could see your work published on six-two…

Girls posing in Europe

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