Holidays are supposed to be fun, idyllic and relaxing but when you suffer from mental health problems, they could turn into a nightmare.
I booked my girlie holiday to Zante (which also happened to be this year’s European party capital) last September. I wasn’t sure of the group’s intentions for the holiday ie whether it would be a chilled break or a party holiday but as it was probably going to be my only holiday in 2013 and the fact I wanted to go on a holiday with my girlfriends after we finished our exams I decided I would book onto it. Last September, I was naive enough to think that I would be better or at least psychologically strong enough to go on holiday. Oh god, how I was so wrong.
In the few weeks leading up to my holiday, I had to access my CMHT crisis service. I was in crisis. I hadn’t felt this bad… perhaps in ever. I’m still not feeling good, even now, weeks later. I was desperate to go on this holiday. It was my 18th birthday present from my parents and I would have felt awfully guilty if I had cancelled it. Ha. I wish I had now.
For the entire week before the holiday, I sought doctors’ advice from my GP and advice from my CPN/CC. The Dr said that she didn’t think I should go. The nurse said she thought I should go. Brilliant. I begged the doctor to prescribe me diazepam for the anxiety. She said no. Brilliant.
I also searched on the internet for information about going on holiday in crisis and what help I could access whilst I was out there. Seeing as I was going on holiday without my parents/responsible adult I was worried that my friends wouldn’t look after me if I needed them to. There was no information available about mental health crisis on holiday. The top of the search results was unanimously Charlotte’s blog (@BipolarBlogger). She’s blogged about going on holiday and going into crisis whilst on holiday. Well I was going on holiday whilst in crisis…
I commented on her blog and asked if she had any tips to cope and manage whilst being abroad. She very kindly tweeted me a long list which I copied out to take with me. These things included separating myself from the rest of the group, relaxation music to help me relax and meditation. I also printed off the Trouble in Paradise blog, this blog and also this blog. I put them all in an envelope along with a crisis aversion plan I’d quickly drawn up the afternoon before I left and the CMHT number and my GP surgery number just in case.
Our flight was at 06:50. I had to wake up at 3:45 (not ideal) and my Dad dropped me at the airport. I was so anxious because I’d never flown before without at least one of my parents with me. I also get anxious before going on aeroplanes because I’m an emetophobe and the thought of somebody vomitting near me can start off a panic attack.
We boarded the plane at 06:25. At 06:50, the pilot came onto the intercom to inform us that we were going to be sitting on the tarmac for at least an hour because of a traffic jam at the other end in Zante. Brilliant. I cried.
When we got finally got going, I started to relax a little bit.
We finally got there at 13:30 Greek time. The passport control was laughable but the bagagge carousels were quick. We were on our way to the hotel within half an hour of landing.
When we arrived at the hotel, we were ushered into the bar by the Thomson rep. He wanted to sell the Thomson night life package. I immediately opted out of it, alcohol was the last thing my brain needed. My friends shelled out 140 euro on these nights and paid for 5 nights (and some days) out of the 7 to go out and party at events organised by Thomson.
On the first night, they went out of a bar crawl and I went to bed. One of my friends who I was sharing a room with “got lucky” on the first night and finally crawled into bed at about 01:30. I was soo tired after our early morning and flight. I don’t understand why people wanted to go out?!?!
On the Saturday, all my friends but one were booked to go on the Booze Cruise boat party. Me and my friend, G just chilled around the pool all day which was nice. I was feeling ok, pretty calm but I was already feeling very homesick.
On Saturday night, I decided for one night only I would go out with them on the strip. It wasn’t a fun night and I’ll leave it at that. I hated every minute of it.
On Sunday, I wanted to go to the beach so a couple of my friends and I walked the 500m down the strip and to the beach. It was really nice and the sea was beautiful. I spent a good 2 and a half hours in the sea in the afternoon. Unfortunately during this time my factor 50 suncream wore off and I ended up with the world’s worst sunburn and sun stroke. I was very ill on Sunday night.
I spent all of Monday in bed. I was very anxious and didn’t feel up to facing the world.
On Monday night I went to have dinner with all my friends. Then went straight to bed whilst they all went to a beach rave.
My roomies came back to the room at about 23:30. We went to sleep. I was awoken at 3am because a couple of other friends had come into my room. This one girl, who wasn’t really my friend before we went on this holiday and certainly will not be my friend now we’ve got back, decided it would be fun to take the mick out of me, out of my poor health, out of my clothes. I tolerated it for about 5 minutes but after that I just shouted at her to go away. It was 3am and I just wanted to sleep! And I just thought it was soooo rude what she was doing to me. She went away and we all went back to sleep.
I woke up at 9:30 and read for a little bit. Then I got up (my two roomies were still asleep) and went for a walk down to the shop and rang my mom. I ended up breaking down on the phone and just crying. I wanted to pretend that I was okay because it was my 18th birthday present. I was gutted that I couldn’t pretend. She told me that I should go to the airport and see if I could get home today. I ran back to my room and shoved everything in my suitcase as quick as possible. I told my roomies that I was going to try and go home. They were a bit shocked but accepted by decision. When I was ordering a taxi to the airport in reception I bumped into a few of my other friends. They said I would regret going home early. I didn’t care. I had one thing on my mind and that was going home.
When I go to the airport, I managed to get on a flight back to East Midlands Airport (my first choice was Birmingham but there were no tickets). I had the last ticket on the plane. Within half an hour of arriving at the airport, I was sitting on the plane waiting to go home.
3 and a half hours later and I was back on home territory at East Midlands Airport, three days earlier than schedule.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt so relieved in my life and no way regret my decision of leaving early.
So that is the story of my first “girlie” holiday.
I’m hoping that sometime this week I will be able to do a blog post about mental health and holiday and how to manage it… Not that I’m an expert or anything!!