Dealing With Post-Travel Depression

In stark contrast to breath-taking travel adventures, at times we may find it a bit difficult to fit back in, when we return home.  Sometimes it goes a bit overboard and becomes a lot to bear with.  This is a normal experience for many, so it's important that we share these stories as well!

I (Corinne) always like to think of myself as a toughie, but this one time taught me just how vulnerable I could be. 


When we went to the Philippines back in 2012, I had a rough time fitting back in at home.  Home felt hollow and the happiness we had encountered all over the country was a stark contrast to the consumerist busy lifestyle back home, yet in a couple of weeks, home felt home again.  It was coming back from China in 2016 that things turned really bad.


Our experience in China was a beautiful yet tough one.  I was expecting that coming back home from a huge country where people constantly take photos of you because you are different, talking an incomprehensible language, being badly sick, walking a lot and travelling long hours, I would be relieved to arrive back to home sweet home. Well it was the total opposite really! 


I am usually very bubbly but this was a surreal feeling. I simply could not fit back into my life, my job, my family, my home. I was also physically unwell, could not breath properly, my senses were numbed in a very strange way.  At one point, things turned bleak, neither home nor the thought of leaving was any good.  Everything felt hollow and frivolous and no amount of conversations could spark any sort of interest.

I told no one on how I was feeling, because I could not express what was wrong.  Not even Noel (my husband) or my family, whom I am so close with knew, though they could sense that something was wrong. The only thing I was happy with was watching weight drop off as I was losing my appetite.  Don’t worry, I put it all back on and a bit more to have a buffer.  I remember going to a bird shop to get our two super loud Crimson Rosellas and the sounds of birds felt muffled and far away. Noel asked "so which ones?" and our usual animated debates dried down "whichever you choose goes".


This went on for a couple of months, hard time concentrating, and constantly thinking about what is the purpose of my job? What is the purpose of cleaning the house? Of going out with friends? Of life itself?


Eventually after a couple of months it did get better and now I do my best not to go to that place again.  But, the advice I give to anyone passing through this, and to myself if it happens again is to speak up. It is not silly to go to a psychologist, family will not think you are stupid or sick and it will pass.


I still wonder if here is the right place for me, whether I should be teaching in a school in some remote country where people live happily on the little they have. But in the mean time, I choose to be here, with my family, to travel and learn to be happy with whatever comes along. Because happiness is not just in some remote country somewhere, it comes from within no matter the circumstances.

© Corinne and Noel Fenech 2019

Shots and Tales - Enabling Independent and Responsible Travel

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