Here in Australia today it's R U OK? Day. It's a day when we are encouraged to "check up" on people we're worried about; it's a time when we are reminded that talking about mental health issues like depression and suicide is really important. Many Australian bloggers have got behind the cause by posting about depression and suicide and you can read a bunch of them below, although I'd like to make special mention of a series of posts by my lovely friend Rachel at Because I Said So - I'd highly recommend reading her series called Dave, R U OK?, parts one, two and three.
When it comes to travel blogs, I'm pretty sure many people would think that talking about depression has no place here. After all, travel's all about fun and following your dreams and getting away from "real life". But do stop and think - because obviously, nobody's immune to suffering from depression and with the Australian stats showing one in five adults will experience depression at some stage, the odds are there that some of these people will be travellers and in fact, there are even some good reasons why some people will suffer depression while travelling - especially longer term travel like I've done.
Homesickness can be an obvious cause of depression - I remember during my first weeks in Japan that several fellow English teachers who had been in our training course in the first few days had returned to their home countries because they were so homesick. Culture shock and dealing with sometimes scary and different situations can also tip some travellers into depression.
Probably the nearest I came to travel causing me something close to depression was when I returned to live in Australia after almost six years away. Getting past my reverse culture shock was quite a trying time and I was lucky to have almost ideal circumstances - I think that for others, the shock of returning to "normal life" could be a lot more difficult to deal with.
So in the spirit of R U OK? Day, I'd love all my travelling and non-travelling friends to keep it in mind that we really need to talk about how we're feeling and to check in our fellow travellers (on the road and in life in general) now and again. And for my readers who are on the road on long-term trips, especially, do remember to look after your mental health as well - it can be lonely out there, it can be not what you expect, and it can be hard to find someone to talk to - so take care.