I grew up going on very energetic vacations. Skiing, hiking, snowshoeing, swimming, canoeing, mountain biking. My parents took me on thrice yearly vacations that would fatigue the average Outward Bound participant.
When I became an adult, I still went on busy vacations, but they were more city-oriented. Lots of museums and monuments and shows.
Since my bipolar diagnosis just over five years ago, I haven’t been on many vacations (having failing physical and mental health is expensive), and when I have they have sucked. I spent all day, every day, trying to fight my internal clock by getting up early and then booking my day full of things to do while off my schedule and out of my element. I wanted to pretend my vacation was also a vacation from being mentally ill, otherwise I feared I would be wasting my vacation time and this invalidating the entire experience.
This time, we decided to approach vacation differently. We wanted to get out of town, see some city sights, then spend time by the ocean. We picked a couple very nice hotels and decided to plan one thing to do every day with the caveat that we weren’t going to stress about it if our plans changed.
It’s been a fantastic vacation so far, since I gave myself permission to go easy on myself. Some days we’ve done two or three things, and some days we have done nothing but get room service and take a drive. I’ve tried to adjust my schedule by adjusting med times, and when it works, it works. When it doesn’t, well, that’s why we got a suite — so he can sleep while I stay up reading or looking out the window or watching food network porn in the other room.
Getting sick and not being able to do what other people did didn’t bother me too much. Getting sick and not being able to constantly be the best version of myself. Old me could bounce out of bed after three hours of sleep and spend all day doing things, go to bed late, and do it all again. Doing that now makes me miserable and anxious — and that’s before it makes me manic and crazy.
I’ve really enjoyed this vacation so far. Letting go of what I thought I should do and accepting what I actually can do has been incredibly liberating.
Maybe I’ll try it when I get home, too.