This might be long, and maybe no-one will care, but I just need to rant a little and get it out of my head.
I posted here a while ago about doing a solo travel trip with severe vertigo. I was suffering from a little depression about the impact this condition has had on my life, so I decided I was going to prove to myself I could be independent and challenge the hold this thing has on me.
At home I have a good routine where I get a lot of vertigo but it doesn’t impact my life too much. I wake up in the morning and run. Then I sit down at home and work for the day on the computer because that’s usually when my vertigo is the worst. In the evening I finish work and go to the gym, then I usually cook a nice dinner and watch movies with my family or play video games. 2-3 times per week I do something social with friends. Some days are worse than others but I usually manage to stick to my routine. Even though I have vertigo I know my heart and muscles are in good condition, I have a good diet, so I can rationalise to myself that I’m still doing ok health-wise. I’ve been getting a bit of depression though because I feel really stuck in this routine. Like I can follow my routine, but if something random comes up which breaks the routine I tend to have a horrible day with lots of symptoms and anxiety.
I figured the scariest thing for me right now is the idea of travelling alone across the other side of the world to countries with very different cultures to the west, where I wouldn’t have my usual routine or support network. My plan was to challenge myself with a 4 week trip visiting 7 countries (Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Russia, and Belarus). I originally picked some more Western countries like Finland, but then decided it would be even more challenging to stay away from the culture I’m used to. The plan involved a couple of flights and a lot of overland travelling with trains and buses.
I went ahead with the trip and currently after almost 18 days of travelling solo I’m in Armenia.
I wish I had something super positive and inspirational to tell you all but honesty this has been a really difficult experience for me. Perhaps it’s the combination of jet lag, fatigue from little sleep, poor diet and exercise, but my vertigo, anxiety, and depression has been way worse while travelling. I had it pretty under control with a good routine back home, but since travelling I’ve been getting really severe attacks daily, to the point I have difficulty walking and standing up for hours at a time.
In Turkey I caught a taxi from my hotel to the Blue Mosque and was struck by some of the worst vertigo I’ve ever had. I could barely stand up and the adrenaline from the anxiety was making me shake. I would stumble 20-30 meters, lean against a wall for 15 minutes, and then stumble another 20-30 meters. Everything was spinning so bad I could hardly look in front of me as the world twisted and turned. I was fighting the urge to vomit from the spinning, and I had no medication or anything on me, no internet to distract myself with on my phone, and basically just nothing I could do. Even if I totally freaked out and I didn’t know the health system in Turkey or even the number for an ambulance.
I was leaning against a wall, and some police came up and asked in English if I had been drinking or if I was ill. I explained that I just had vertigo which was impacting my walking but I didn’t need to go hospital because it wasn’t a life-threatening condition. Despite their rough appearance and demeanour they were really nice once I explained what was happening, and they got me water and helped me get to a nearby bench where I sat down for about 3 hours. Finally I felt able to find a taxi and get back to the hotel. I was so intensely anxious for about an hour though I even wrote a note on my phone for my family in case I died or went crazy or something. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that helpless.
That was the worst vertigo of the holiday but I’ve had a lot of other severe attacks while walking around cities doing tourist stuff. I’ve had to spend a lot of time in hotels, and because of the worsening vertigo my enjoyment of activities is lessened. It’s not that fun to be at a museum when everything violently is spinning around you.
Now I’m considering cutting the last part of my holiday short and going back home in 2 days instead of going to Russia and Belarus. I’m just not having fun spending all this time by myself, and being so dizzy. I’m eating mostly junk food because I don’t feel up to getting nice meals out that much, and I’m sitting around instead of exercising. The thought of another 10 days of this experience fills me with dread.
I’m really torn because I have 2 voices in my head.
One voice is telling me: “Man up Nathan, people have it way harder than you and you don’t have a right to complain. Stick to what you started and don’t let this issue control your life”.
The other voice is saying “What are you trying to prove? You’re making your condition worse and you’re having a bad time. Just go home where you will feel happier and stop being stubborn”.
I don’t know what to do.
Anyway any advice is appreciated. I just needed vent a little so sorry for the lack of my usual positivity.