Travelling with OCD

I adore travelling. Getting out of my head, away from my desk and throwing myself into a new culture and way of life? Perfection.

In fact, I’m currently in Thailand with my new husband as we explore the island of Phuket and all the amazing things that this fantastic country has to offer.

There is however, one thing that holds me back sometimes when I’m planning or on trips abroad (particularly to other continents where there’s a lot more that could go wrong!) – and that’s my obsessive compulsive disorder.

My OCD is something that I’ve lived with for the majority of my life, and in daily life I manage to handle my intrusive thoughts pretty well, to the extent that people wouldn’t know I had it unless I actually spoke to them about it.

I’m in good routines, I sleep well and I also have a strong support network- however, when I throw everything up in the air and travel abroad, I can often send myself into a spiral of worry and panic.

Because, as my OCD primarily focuses on contamination and health anxiety, I’ve had one or two bumps in the road.

I worry about diseases abroad, I worry about unfamiliar food and toilets and I worry about things going wrong.

I’m away from my safe comfort, my family and sometimes it really can have an impact on how I enjoy exploring new places.

So – how am I overcoming this to love my travels and to continue to want to explore?

Well, there’s a number of things that work for me.

Firstly, I keep myself as prepared as possible.

I try to look up places I’m going ahead of time, I make sure that I’ve got good battery and WiFi to contact anyone I might need, I try to put a small plan in place just to keep my brain calm.

All of these things help a little, but sometimes things will come as a curveball at me- so, the main thing I have to always remember is that, a lot of my thoughts are just that- thoughts.

My thoughts are not necessarily reality.

I try to imagine that I’m someone (like my sister) who doesn’t have OCD, and I wonder if she would even think this thought!

Finally, I try to think that the best way to cure a fear is to face is. I would regret it so much if I spent my whole life hiding away from things that frightened me.

Although mental health can be hard to manage, the memories that I’ve made whilst traveling have been irreplaceable.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about OCD in particular, it’s that nobody ever cured themselves by avoiding all the scary things in life. You’ve got to buckle in and embrace the fear that you have…

So get out there and get adventuring!

Rach

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