This is a hard post to write, especially since I have just had a few of the happiest weeks ever – I booked my next trip, bought my dream bike, and made more plans to move to London in a few months. Then I got a message from my mum, no hello, no nothing just ‘you there?’. When she sees me start to type she fires through ‘I’ll call you’ and I know something is wrong. Late at night for me, early morning for her, I find myself sobbing into my bed sheets because our gorgeous, beautiful, gentle Rottweiler, Belle, has had to be out to sleep. She was nine years old, she has been one of my best friends since I was 13. This wasn’t a surprise, she was diagnosed with bone cancer in her back leg last October and we were told 100 days, max. After amputating the leg and several rounds of chemo we had some hope she would kick the cancer and we could have a few more years. After her last round of chemo she just didn’t bounce back and over the weekend she started having trouble breathing – the cancer was in her lungs. She had made it six months, twice the time she was given.
I debated on whether or not to write about this – it’s my dog not something travel related. But the reality of long term travel or living overseas is that when something like this happens, you cant do anything and that hurts. If I was home I would hug our other dog, have a cup of tea with my parents, and be sad. But here all I could do was be sad. When she was diagnosed in October I was in a position to visit Australia and I am not ashamed to say that I flew half way around the world to visit my puppy before she died. Having a family member, yes a family member, suddenly limited to a few month hit me – I hadn’t seen my family or my Australian friends for 18 months. I don’t really suffer from home sickness – I talk almost constantly with them and I adapt incredibly quickly – but suddenly I needed to be in Australia. Spending half my savings and spending only two weeks in Australia was the best decision I could have made. Unfortunately this is the reality of long term travel – stuff happens at home and you can’t do anything about it. I am lucky enough to have a support network here, but if I didn’t I would be lost. I guess the message here is you can never – ever – take too many photographs and anyone who makes fun of that can fuck right off, if you want to go home there is no shame in that, and lastly talk to people – if it’s getting too much engage with people around you, people online, or people there to help. And hug your dogs.
Mental Health while travelling is a serious thing, so don’t be afraid or ashamed to talk to someone – google that shit, there are so many avenues for support
United Kingdom Crisis Line
Samaritans: 24 hours, www.samaritans.org
Australia Crisis Help Line
LifeLine: 24 hours, www.lifeline.org.au
13 11 14 or chat online