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Travel for many of us is a way to relax from our day to day lives, go explore the world, and educate ourselves about the world around us. For some like myself, it is the way I cope with a horrific situation and condition I now live with.
June 7th, 2013 was supposed to be a glorious day for myself! I was 1 final exam away from finishing my general education at Santa Monica College in Santa Monica, CA.
It was roughly 12:30 pm when shots rang out in the library.
I was able to hide and escape safely. Unfortunately, 6 people were killed in a rampage that ended in the Santa Monica College library. I was only 25 yards away from where it ended. I was interviewed by over 40 different media outlets, and had a very unfortunate 15 minutes of fame.
The experience immediately after was odd. I wasn’t able to sleep for about 2 days, and then I simply put it in my past. It was like it never happened. At 19 years old, you tend to be more malleable. It took about 3 years for me to recognize the traumatic event and the effects of it. I was having flashbacks, anxiety, and nervousness in large groups. I started seeing a therapist and was diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
When my wife and I started dating, travel became a huge part of our relationship. Although we were young and poor, we found every way possible to travel with points & miles.
Travel has always been extremely important in her life and she was already well traveled when we started dating. For me, my family was too afraid to leave their bubble and we traveled to the same 3 places my entire childhood. With her confidence and my knowledge of points & miles, the world became our oyster!
It all came full circle when in July 2017, we went on a humanitarian trip to San Martin, Guatemala with a non-profit group in Utah called Youthlinc. After seeing the conditions that some people live in while maintaining a high level of happiness and gratitude gave me a new perspective and changed my life.
This ignited my love for travel.
Since being diagnosed with PTSD in 2016, I have traveled more than ever before. I’ve been to 6 different countries, multiple trips within the United States, and more to come! Being with my wife and exploring the world has been empowering, alleviating, and has allowed me to cope with such a tragic event.
If you are suffering from a tragic event in your life or condition, I cannot express enough how therapeutic traveling can be. Except for going through security at your local airport – haha!
Whether you are dealing with PTSD, depression, anxiety, or any other condition, get on a plane and see what the power of travel can do for you.
For me, it has allowed me to cope with my PTSD and regain my life.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, please call the National Alliance on Mental Illness at (800) 950-6264.
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