mental health travel

Why I Went Away For My Mental Health: Photos & Insights From Niagara

What do you do to spend your time when you are in recovery and trying to treat your mental illness? I sleep a lot, which might not be the best idea but with my medication, I really need it. I also spend time going to doctor’s appointments, the psychiatrist and therapy. I’m trying to be better about going to the gym and cooking – last week, we even made a meal plan! I work on this blog. I see friends. I try to put myself occasionally in situations that push me out of my comfort zone because I strongly believe that there can be no recovery without growth.

So, this past weekend, for a change of scenery, I went for a one-night trip to Niagara Falls with my partner and two of our friends. It was a barely a vacation – we were less than two hours away from home. But it was still a wonderful excursion and way to boost my mood without spending too much money or time away from home and responsibilities.

Vacations can be medicine for anyone. “Traveling allows the mind to expand and literally see the world in a new and different way,” Sarah Jensen, a travel consultant, wrote. This could not be more true – I really believe that even a small change of pace can interrupt your habits and routine and help you challenge your expectations and current way of thinking. For mental illness, this is key. I know for myself,  it can be helpful to engage in activities that take me out of my head. Travelling also helps you reduce stress, get more active, strengthen relationships and improve cognitive function.

Of course, because my mood has been extremely low and I have been experiencing severe symptoms from my bipolar disorder, I knew I had to be careful on this mini-vacation. I needed to ensure I had time to myself and that I got enough sleep, for one. I needed to avoid certain triggers that worsen my symptoms. I also tried my best to be mindful and stay present in the moment so that I could enjoy my surroundings without too much anxiety.

So what was my one-day vacation like? I’ve included a series of photos so you can experience it for yourself.

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Because we got a GroupOn for the Ramada Plaza, we were given a bunch of coupons for various local businesses. We went to FOUR wineries for wine tastings. The first was Konzelmann Winery, a gorgeous estate where we got a tour of their facilities. The wine was so delicious – we left with TWO bottles of their peach wine. I can’t wait to share it the next time we have people over.

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We went to Trius Wineries and again, I left with a bottle of Wild Ferment Sauvignon Blanc. It was a little expensive, compared to a lot of wines at the LCBO, but very delicious and totally worth it. We also bought a bottle of Gamay Rosé from Joseph’s Estate Winery,Joseph’s Estate Winery, which was kinda obviously going to happen because I am obsessed with rosé.

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Lastly, we visited Peller Estates, which was located in a beautiful, grand building. The wine was delicious but we were so full of wine that I couldn’t really appreciate it anymore or make a decision so we didn’t buy a bottle to bring home.

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For dinner, we went to a local gastro-pub in Niagara-on-the-Lake called the Garrison House. I ate a very good burger – and I am hard to please when it comes to burgers. For dessert, I got a special Valentine’s Day dish – this crumbling pear and hazelnut tart in the photo above. It was the perfect dessert because it was tasty without being too sweet.

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After dinner, we stopped into Silversmith BtewerySilversmith Btewery. Although I am not a huge beer drinker, my companions really enjoyed them for the most part. They each tried a flight of beer, and some agreed with them more than others. Which totally makes sense – in a variety of flavours, only some will appeal.

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In the morning, after breakfast, we went to a local chocolate factory called Chocolate FX for a tour of their facilities and a tasting. Obviously, we couldn’t leave empty-handed. This is our haul. I am aware that the joke about self-medicating with chocolate could be seen as offensive, but honestly I found it kind of funny so I am sharing it anyways.

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Afterwards, we went to go check out the Falls. Although I have seen them before, I was still blown away with their size and magnitude, as well as the sounds of the water rushing and the gorgeous colour of the water.

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All in all, the vacation was a success. I left it feeling kinda exhausted but I felt more calm and proud of myself for spending a day and a half socializing with friends, which is pretty difficult for me.  I can usually only last about an hour and a half before I need to retreat to my home. I’m not going to lie – there were tough moments on the trip. I experienced a lot of de-realization (when you feel like your surroundings aren’t real) and de-personalization (when you feel you yourself are not real). This makes sense because I was out of my typical environment. I would really love to be able to spend time with people and not have to worry about the fact that I am trying to listen to someone talk but it feels like I am dreaming. I worry that they will think I am not listening to them or that I am rude.

Anyways, it was a good experiment and I am happy I went but I am glad to be back to my routine and back to my regular treatment plan. I think a  day away is a fine way to spend time when you are recovering from mental illness and can definitely help – but definitely in moderation.

What about you? Have you ever gone on a  trip, even a mini one like mine, to try and help in your recovery? Did it work? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

 

 

8 comments on “Why I Went Away For My Mental Health: Photos & Insights From Niagara

  1. Looks like you had a great time!

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  2. We drove by there Saturday!

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  3. The pictures look very pretty (but also freezing!)

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  4. Trips can take us away from the mundane reminders about our challenges. Great post. I was in niagara last summer with my son and had a great experience.

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  5. I try to put myself occasionally in situations that push me out of my comfort zone because I strongly believe that there can be no recovery without growth.

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