Meet Tai- TRAVEL SAVED MY LIFE: BATTLING MENTAL ILLNESS, HEALING & FINDING PURPOSE IN THE WORLD.

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“I have seen many storms in my life. Most storms have caught me by surprise, so I had to learn very quickly to look further and understand that I am not capable of controlling the weather, to exercise the art of patience and to respect the fury of nature.

-Paulo Coelho”

Mid-twenties are always said to be the height of your life. I served six years in the Air Force right out of high school. At 24, I was unhappy with the disconnect between where I was in life and where I wanted to be. So, I separated from service and looked forward to freedom, college, & finding my desires in life with no restrictions. I was ready to experience the height of my life that everyone raved about.

I did well for the first two years. In others words, I managed. I attended college, and tried to adapt to my new life. At that point, and even in the Air Force, I had battles with anxiety and depression. I was soon diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Unfortunately, I didn’t understand it beyond the drugs they kept offering, so I kindly declined them and kept pushing. Over time, those years of freedom turned into days of lost hope and tear soaked pillows on my bed where I buried myself for days. Sadly, my mid 20s became the height of my darkest days. I became scared of the world. I was scared of life and feared for my own life. My anxiety turned into severe depression. I was already receiving help and taking anti-depressants so I would always ask myself, “How much more can I take?” At the bottom of all of this, was a little spark of hope. I knew I wanted to be here. As much as I questioned the point of it all, I knew I wanted to live.

My light shined a little brighter when I was introduced to holistic healing almost a year ago. Even through my anxiety of flying, travel has become a huge part of my holistic journey. It has helped me conquer fears, gain confidence and exude courage. Times have changed and now I can’t live my life without traveling. In the last 2 years, I have traveled to Canada, Bahamas, Nicaragua, Mexico, Egypt, Belize, and Thailand with long stopovers in Germany and Zurich. There are 3 trips in particular that has a huge impact on my path to healing, my spiritual journey and finding my sense of purpose.

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Grounded at Sivananda Yoga Retreat in the Bahamas  

This experience began my journey to healing. I stayed in a tiny room on the beach where I feel asleep and awakened to crashing waves. It reminded me a lot of my mind but was the most beautiful thing I had experienced. I always ask when I see crashing waves, “How can something so dangerous and powerful, be the most beautiful thing you’ve ever encountered?”

During my stay, I started my healing physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I started to practice methods to bring peace and tranquility through yoga and meditation. Most importantly, I learned to quiet and ease my mind. I met people from all walks of life and a variety of spiritual paths searching for inner peace. Through this experience, I began to feel alive again. I really felt my heart start to beat again.

Embodied in Cairo, Egypt

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This country meant so much to me and was the most surreal experience. Sometimes I still can’t believe I was there. I conquered a great amount of fear traveling to the Middle East. Egypt turned out to be a beautiful piece of history. It was truly inspiring. I took the opportunity to see my history through my own eyes. I was truly inspired by the Kings and Queens who came before me. I also connected with a group of people from the U.S., through TravelNoire who traveled to experience the rich culture of this beautiful country. It is inspiring to meet like-minded people and connect in a different part of the world outside of the U.S. I really connected to my history beyond readings in a school textbook. Egypt helped me to feel connected and embodied.

Nourished in Thailand

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I traveled to Thailand for a deeper connection with my spirit. I am drawn to the spirituality of the Asian culture. I have been for a few years now. I decided to take steps towards my spiritual enlightenment. The beliefs and practices of Hinduism and Buddhism intrigue me. 95% of Thais in Thailand are Buddhist. I relate to the teachings of Buddha especially his teaching that “Life is Suffering”. Everything is impermanent and changeable. That includes pain but it also includes happiness. Striving to be the best at all times, even through pain and dissatisfaction is key. As I visited and meditated in the temples, I felt that overwhelming sense of peace. I felt I understood and accepted my existence. I was accepting the good and the bad. I accepted that although mental illness is something I will have to manage for the rest of my life, it is manageable. Just as Buddha said, “It is impermanent and changeable.” That same heartfelt feeling I felt in the Bahamas and the embodiment I felt in Egypt, all connected with my soul in Thailand. I felt my purpose existed. I now felt not only could I breathe again but now every breath and step came with a purpose.

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I’m still searching for my reason for which I exist as most of us are, but travel has given me a whole new light. I don’t know where I would be without it. I may have still been crying in my bed. I’m not sure but, what I am sure of is that I am happier, livelier and less fearful of life. Travel is a key part in helping me to manage my anxiety, combat bouts of depression and to feel a sense of purpose in this world. I am finally starting to embrace my piece of the puzzle on Earth. Taking the leap to travel wasn’t easy but it has definitely gotten easier. I think it is something that everyone should experience. Through my experience, I hope to be an inspiration for everyone. I have started a blog called The Life of Tai. It talks about my journey with mental illness and my path to healing. It includes topics from traveling affordability, to essential oils and their benefits. Everyone may not suffer from mental illness but we can learn something from each of our experiences. Traveling the world is definitely an experience you can grow from. I definitely did and it saved my life. I believe there is a piece of us all over the world. I urge everyone to travel and pick up the pieces. I am finally starting to feel whole again. Next stop Dubai……..

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One of the things I love about your story is you used one of the things that initially gave you anxiety (traveling and flying) and you confronted your fear head on and used it as part of your recipe for healing. -Kate

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