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Taking a break. Thursday December 10, 2015

How often have you thought or have had someone suggest to you, to take a break; a holiday short or just time out. This would be a chance to unwind, to relax, to chill out, to de-stress, to forget our worries. This seems like a great idea but the reality is for people who have an illness or disorder, they never get a real break from their illness.

Preparing for an overseas holiday is frustrating for me as I know I won't be able to get health insurance for my bipolar, unless I am less than honest. Making sure I take enough tablets for the trip and a note from my doctor explaining the reason for the medications to show at customs in case I am questioned by customs.

While I am away from home I worry that I may become sick and not to be able to afford medical care. I worry that I am not relaxing and enjoying my break.

What I have realised at long last is that I am not going to get the benefits of a holiday unless I learn to relax before the vacation. Most importantly I need to take a break from my worries and my constant thinking about my illness. This does not mean I forget about taking medication, or caring for myself but it means I need to be not so self-absorbed.

When people are very depressed there seems no break at all, but sometimes even for a few minutes when they watch a child laughing, smell a beautiful flower, or laugh at a silly joke. In those few minutes there is a chance to breathe and glimpse a possibility that life may get better.

So how do we take a break from our illnesses, our health concerns?

I am trying to take little moments from my concerns and to gain confidence in my ability to remain healthy and learn the reassurance that if I become sick I will be able to cope.

The key word is trying. It is a journey.

How do you take a break either physically or mentally?

Any advice on how to enjoy a real holiday??

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Barbara Thu, Dec 10th 2015 @ 5:37am

Hi Leah,
Firstly, I would not admit to the bipolar upfront. If you get ill, you could get the necessary care without admitting to a history of the disorder. Sort out possible insurance claim later.
Where are u travelling to? Is there a reciprocal medical arrangement with oz? Put some money aside in case u need it for care.
To take a break and prepare, start imagining what your holiday will be like. Pre-experience some of the pleasure!
Are you travelling solo? Alert someone at the place you are going, to what could possibly happen to you, and how they could help/cope.
I am in Spain, as you know. Can I help?
x Barbara

Crawford Thu, Dec 10th 2015 @ 2:06pm

Hi There,I went too America and witnessed a friend being run over and killed right in front of me whilst working over there. I was the last person to speak to her!This instigated another manic episode and two weeks in a psychiatric ward in America!Fortunately I had insurance as the hospital bill was $18,000!I now get my holiday insurance through a company called and I declare all my illnesses.They are quite reasonable.I have written a book called 'Footprints in the Sand' regarding my time in a psychiatric ward in the USA amongst other episodes,suicide attempts and other things to help other people with bipolar.It is available on Amazon.

Leah Fri, Dec 11th 2015 @ 1:40am

Thanks for sharing your experiences. I hope your next trip is peaceful.

Leah Thu, Dec 10th 2015 @ 6:38am

Thanks for your kind words. I was just rambling generally nothing specific though I will be going overseas next year sometime. Thanks for your tips. I have been overseas a few times in last few years to see my son.Thanks for being so helpful.

danielle Thu, Dec 10th 2015 @ 8:17am

Hi Leah I know exactly where you are coming from, for me I look forward to holidays but its bittersweet as being away from home is very disruptive for me and being out of my routine is also disruptive, as much as i love travelling to new places i get very home sick. For me I have little things which allow me breaks in day to day life, I have a lovely horse whom I see daily (see my blog on Fleur my lifeline in Nov) and she gives me a lovely break each day. I enjoy reading and find this a great break as it gets me into another world for a short time. With holidays I have been on UK holidays the past three years. Obviously the weather isnt as good as somewhere exotic but some of the most beautiful places I have visited are in the UK. I am not a huge sun worshipper and like outdoors activities so apologies if you dont but Cornwall is always beautiful, particularly the very south near penzance. Lake district and north wales are two of my other favourites. I am thinking that being in the UK could take away some of the worries about needing health care, taking the tablets through customs etc. lots of love xx

Leah Thu, Dec 10th 2015 @ 11:18am

Danielle, Thanks for you comment. I am not in UK so UK is very exotic to me and a very very long flight away! I like the idea of reading for a break but I tend to overthink what I read. Thanks for taking time to share some useful ideas.

danielle Thu, Dec 10th 2015 @ 11:43am

Apologies Leah i didnt realise! Where do you live? Is there somewhere in your own country that you would enjoy for a holiday? I was just thinkign it might reduce the worry of health care in another country etc xx

LillyPet Thu, Dec 10th 2015 @ 8:43am

Morning Leah,
One thing that I do to help my anxiety about a holiday is when I come back from one and have washed my holiday clothes, I put them in the suitcase for the next one! I'm not sure whether I'll be able to afford it, or where I'll go, but I'm half packed anyway! Otherwise I get the worry that I'll put off packing till the night before or even the hours before and will be late to the airport! So have knocked that one on the head! :)

I have learned that I find group holidays ( extended family) too stressful, I need to get away from it all! So that one's been knocked on the head, I don't get involved in that malarky any more! Just me and my two, or even just me!

It's taken until this last year to prioritise being able to afford a holiday each year and
have a regular transfer to my holiday fund set up which takes the worry about being able to afford it or getting into debt out of it. Anxiety numero 3 sorted!

I guess it takes time and experience to identify the specific things that you can do to change and shape it to what will be good for you. Also great to get tips from people who get it!
A great idea for a blog, thanks Leah! LP xxx

Leah Thu, Dec 10th 2015 @ 11:21am

Lilypet, Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I like the idea of packing for next holiday except I don't have holiday clothes but even putting items i the case I may need next time is helpful.

Mrs Jul A Non Thu, Dec 10th 2015 @ 9:36am

Hello Leah. I have learnt not to have high expectations from a holiday. I've been disappointed too many times when my sleep hasn't improved whilst on a relaxing sun soaked holiday. So I know now not to expect miracles. All that will change is the location and a new routine away from emails (mostly) and the daily, I was going to say drudgery but I don't mean that.. We have just been away for a few days and nope, no sleep but the days were wonderful, we walked miles and had beautiful scenery every day to look at. Ok, I felt tired and frustrated when I "woke up" in the hotel room and the tiredness was always with me, but it honestly didn't spoil the holiday. The secret for me is to realise that even a holiday in idyllic surroundings won't "cure" me but I must make the most of every day on holiday as it doesn't last and all too soon, I will be back home again. Julia x

Leah Thu, Dec 10th 2015 @ 11:24am

Hi Jul, I agree "that even a holiday in idyllic surroundings won't 'cure' me, so I think that acceptance is good and making the most of every day on holiday or not on holiday. Thanks for insights which will make me think and consider.

susan Thu, Dec 10th 2015 @ 12:09pm

Hi Leah, you've brought up a difficult problem. If at all possible when on a break, I don't plan anything for the first two days that commits me to a specific time or place. By the time I get to the destination I'm usually pretty stressed out and need to recover. Not so easy if visiting friends, but for me it has to be a priority. As for relaxing beforehand, this is tricky but endless lists help eliminate the fear of forgetting something. When a holiday is booked, we have no way of knowing what state we'll be in when the time comes so it's an act of faith:) xx

Leah Thu, Dec 10th 2015 @ 7:21pm

Susan, Thanks for your practical advice. I like the idea of endless lists, I am a list maker, but then I worry I left something off my list. I even write a list of what I am worried about and what I am worried about I will forget!!

Lexi Thu, Dec 10th 2015 @ 12:46pm

Hi Leah,
When I need a break - usually both physically and mentally - I turn off the phone, crawl into bed or the sofa with a cup of tea and a crossword and just let my mind disengage from my anxiety. Taking a walk also helps for me. Those are short breaks. When I need something more I reschedule my day and just allow myself to do nothing except eat and rest. Everything you need to do is always there the next day. For a holiday I recently decided to forgo the big trip we were planning (and the anxiety and stress!) and instead take a shorter one - a four day trip - with people I love and who know me as I am. I hope that helps. Lexi

Leah Thu, Dec 10th 2015 @ 7:26pm

Lexi, Thanks so much for your helpful ideas that cover from the small time out to a longer break.I like the image of crawling into bed with a cup of tea and a crossword! The four day trip with people you love sounds very relaxing. I know in tourism there is a trend for short get away. Your comment was very helpful indeed.

Victoria Thu, Dec 10th 2015 @ 1:58pm

I want to be in a "movie" holiday where everyone is lovely and have a wonderful time so tend to get disappointed when everything isn't perfect and I'm not well enough to do everything I want to/think I should. I find it helpful to pick one thing per day I really want to do, give myself flexibility and enjoy that one thing. When I went away earlier this year we agreed one attraction per day, not four. I rested after breakfast before museums at 11am, that sort of thing. And then I tried to remind myself of the lovely thing we did, rather than panic and get upset that we hadn't done everything. I am ill. I do need to sit down more. I do need more rest. i do get upset and sad and panicky. And all of that is ok. It's part of me and I can still have a good time.
I hope things work out for you.

Leah Thu, Dec 10th 2015 @ 7:33pm

Victoria, Your honest reply touched me. I can relate to trying to do too much so the advice of concentrating on doing one attraction per day is helpful.Also realising one's limitations and accepting them is an important step and one I am working on.

Victoria Fri, Dec 11th 2015 @ 8:49am

I read back through my comment and realise it sounds like I have it all together. I don't! ???? Accepting limitations is very important but one I struggle with daily. Usually when I'm halfway up the ladder already and realise that trying to decorate the hall isn't a good idea when 10minutes ago I couldn't stand up. I just wanted to say that caring for oneself properly is a daily battle so don't beat yourself up when you find yourself halfway up the ladder. Have a giggle at yourself and a sit down and a cup of tea, then plan an alternative.

Dolphin Thu, Dec 10th 2015 @ 4:52pm

I am going on holiday tomorrow and still haven't packed!! However, like LillyPet, I have a bag with already packed bathroom stuff and makeup and converter plugs etc - there are some things I never put away like creams in smaller containers and the reading glasses,toothpaste, etc are duplicates. And lists. (I travel a lot for work.) I'm not as cool as I sound though. Last night I had a vivid panic dream and woke up weepy, so however much preparation you do, your 'stuff' is still there to trip you up...

Also I've done something similar to Victoria. I've already told my travel companion that I am not going to rush around and that I need quiet times of contemplation and reading. He can do more than me if he wants. I love being in a different place, eating different food and looking at different views and you can do this in a neighbourhood restaurant rather than in the tourist sites. I'm lucky enough to be going to Venice so I want to soak up the atmosphere rather than seeing every sight there is to see. Good food, coffee and canals is fine.

I am so glad I took the time to write this rather than rushing to do my packing. It's given me the opportunity to re-affirm what I need!

Victoria Thu, Dec 10th 2015 @ 5:52pm

Hi Dolphin I went to Venice in November about 7 years ago. It's much less busy this time of year but still beautiful. I don't know why but Venice felt safe wandering round the little streets and squares and bridges. Even if you don't do a "thing", just walking round is a thing all of itself. Enjoy!

Dolphin Thu, Dec 10th 2015 @ 6:05pm

Thanks Victoria - I'm looking forward to mists and soft sights and will take your advice. Just hope it doesn't flood!

Leah Thu, Dec 10th 2015 @ 7:36pm

Dolphin Thanks for your timely comment.I think it shows that knowing yourself and being prepared help. I hope you have a wonderful time in Venice. Let us know when you get back.

Leah Thu, Dec 10th 2015 @ 7:39pm

Victoria, I love that travel advice "Even if you don't do a thing, just walking round is a thing all of itself." That is my favourite thing to do any place I visit. You can take so much in wandering around and soaking upre and observing people.

Mrs Jul A Non Thu, Dec 10th 2015 @ 8:15pm

Dolphin. Venice is where I have just been. It's magical. A feast for the eyes. Enjoy! Where are you staying? Julia

Victoria Fri, Dec 11th 2015 @ 8:51am

Flooding was one of the best bits! They put these low sort of nursery school tables out across St Mark's square to walk on if the water isn't too high. I saw them putting them out the night before a flood and was very confused as to why they had designed such tiny market tables and it wasn't until next morning I realised what they were for!

The Gardener Thu, Dec 10th 2015 @ 6:57pm

A blog which reminds us that a real 'break' which re-charges the batteries and leaves us raring to go is difficult to achieve. I remember the holidays which 'worked' because our real life, which had become arduous, resumed its interest and excitement. For me, now (and I'm not joking) is a long, hot bath with NO interruptions. Our greatest holidays were in Corsica - there was the stress of getting to Gatwick and late planes, once there the 'organisation; took over - cook goes mad? Not our look out. Mr G has always been a nervous traveller (noted particularly by the son who lived in the Far East, therefore the most complicated to visit). However I tried to remain detached, Mr G dancing about in front of the departures screen, scared we would be 'bumped' off, often undid the real pleasures of the holiday. Not going to hog space - but for Christmas we would abandon quarreling families, load up 3, then 4, then 5 children in the Land Rover and head for Italy, where we could get a palace for 10 quid a week and Rosa came in, even on Christmas Day, for 2/6 per hour. It was exciting, crazy, dangerous (we had no money for hotels, so had to drive). Never forget driving into Pontarlier - kids emerged from their sleeping bags - to a pure Christmas card scene. Swiss mountains and food kept them excited for the day - then they all slept through boring Northern Italy to wake to pasta, meat balls, and an Italian welcome of 'belli bambini'. Relaxing when ill? Depressed? I thing it's a huge challenge. For Lexi, when I'm on my own, smoked salmon sandwich, a little wine and SUDOKU. It really is 'whatever turns you on'! Or, if stressed, switches you off!

Leah Thu, Dec 10th 2015 @ 7:48pm

Gardener, What a wonderful reply with so many insightful points.I think a lot hot bath is great, but alas many places like mine do not have a bath, maybe that is an Australian thing!! I am guessing you would not get much chance or time these days to have a bath. Your family trip to Italy so beautifully decscribed could evoked so many happy feelings and sounded like a movie script. Smoke salmon sandwich, one of my favourites, sounds great. As you say you just need to find what works for you.

Silly Sally Thu, Dec 10th 2015 @ 10:27pm

Hi Leah I'm afraid I've no tips for you re learning to relax before your hols as I'm still very much in the bracket of 'anticipation anxiety' especially in the run up to Xmas. But I agree with you re not being so self absorbed. As my niece said to her Mum a few years ago, 'it's not all about you Mom!'. I can't remember where I saw this quote (it might even have been here on Moodscope) but it really struck a chord with me and makes me smile too, 'If I want to have a bad day I just give myself my undivided attention all day'.
I hope you enjoy the run up to your next holiday :-)

Leah Fri, Dec 11th 2015 @ 12:45am

Thanks for your comment. I like quote and it is so true. The more I gaze at my navel the more critical and confused I become.My children often tell me what your niece tells her mum.

LillyPet Thu, Dec 10th 2015 @ 10:43pm

Sally that quote is SO true! Brilliant! :) LP

Leah Fri, Dec 11th 2015 @ 12:48am

The right quote at the right is so powerful isn't it.

Eva Thu, Dec 10th 2015 @ 10:58pm

Hi Silly Sally, great name :) but also Sage Sally, your quote 'if I want to have a bad day...' is awesome, no not the right word... An eye opener? No still not right, it gave me a jolt of understanding. I very much hate to be considered a victim or to consider myself as one and fight not to fall foul of that, but sometimes feel that I do gravitate there unconsciously, then realise, feel slightly ashamed and try to pull my socks up and 'girl up'. It's probably not helpful that lots of friends seem to feel I'm fragile and remind me of the fact... Which I usually bristle at... It's complicated, but NOT spending time dwelling is time well spent :)

Leah Fri, Dec 11th 2015 @ 12:47am

Eva, It is complicated . I don't like people fussing over me and keep asking "are you ok". I know they are being helpful but it reminds me of how weak others see me where as I see myself as strong. if that makes sense.

Eva Fri, Dec 11th 2015 @ 11:00pm

Makes total sense!

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