“Passport, meds, wallet, phone…” My packing list looks the same as most people, but my medication is not as easily replaceable as the usual ibuprofen and imodium that most travelers carry. For years I have guarded them carefully in my carry-on, knowing that in some countries they’re not available at all.
While much progress has been made in the US to decrease the stigma of having a mental health diagnosis, many parts of the world aren’t there yet. This brings an extra layer of challenge to international travel for people like me. I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2000, and like many who struggle with mental health didn’t accept treatment immediately. After a difficult two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco, I realized that I would not be able to travel and lead the life I wanted without support. Since starting treatment, I have traveled on five continents and am living the life I always wanted.