Staycationing just means paying too much to sleep in someone else’s uncomfortable bed

Brianna Parkins: Holidays are for drinking unnatural-looking cocktails by a foreign pool

Staycation: I get to pay through the nose to sleep in someone else’s uncomfortable bed somewhere a few hours’ drive away. Photograph: E+/iStock/Getty

Staycation: I get to pay through the nose to sleep in someone else’s uncomfortable bed somewhere a few hours’ drive away. Photograph: E+/iStock/Getty

 

Mental health and holiday planning are not a good mix for me, which is a problem because holidays are important to mental health.

We are trying to go on holidays in a pandemic. But they’re not called that anymore. They’re called staycations. As far as I can tell, it that doesn’t mean I get to stay in my own uncomfortable bed, eating cheese without a knife; I get to pay through the nose to stay in someone else’s uncomfortable bed somewhere a few hours’ drive away.

We’re trying to book somewhere and we’re having no luck. I think it’s because they’ve given all the rooms to influencers staycationing so they can tell us about how great it is to staycation.

I’ve pegged too much on this holiday. Like many people with mental illness, when things spiral out of control I focus all my energy on irrational and unrelated pursuits

My other half is trying to get me excited about spending a summer in Ireland. He’s doing a bad job. “We’ll go hiking, just wear something warm – it will be great craic,” he says. It won’t, though. Now I have to go walking and wear a jumper. Two things I hate, especially combined, especially on holiday.

Holidays are for drinking cocktails coloured unnatural blues and reds while on plastic furniture by a foreign pool and feeling smug about being Australian listening to Irish and English accents complain how hot it is. I don’t want to go up a mountain; I know what they look like, thanks.

I’ve pegged too much on this holiday. Like many people with mental illness, when things spiral out of control I focus all my energy on irrational and unrelated pursuits I think I can manage and then assign them too much value. If they can be successfully achieved then everything can be okay. If I can just have a week off and find the perfect Airbnb then I’ll be grand – never mind the pandemic.

The pandemic was initially fine for people like me. We are used to feeling like the world is ending, I usually try to get that out of the way before I brush my teeth.

If you’ve ever sent a text giving out about someone to that person by accident, you’ll know the sweaty unavoidable sick feeling in the stomach and heart palpitations I’m talking about. Some days that’s how I live most of my waking hours. It’s been nice, in a horrible way, to see the “good vibes only”, “mind over matter people” quieten down and seeing more honest posts about “dark times”.

For me and unfortunately for many others, “dark times” mean occasionally reaching the point of not wanting to be alive any more. I think I am done with all that craic and would like very much to pack it all in. Sometimes it pops in and out my head as casually as a reminder to pick up milk on the way home. Other times it keeps me awake at 3am.

Thankfully I get the help I need and I’ve never had to miss work. I am lucky enough that the mental illness I have lets me live and love and enjoy my favourite genre of TikTok content – funny videos of cats set to the music of Enya. But these thoughts are part of my life and the lives of many others, as uncomfortable as it makes the people around us feel. It’s important we talk about them, to get them out of our heads.

I have one friend who says he’s determined to hang in there because “I’m the only one in the bloody house who knows how the alarm and the immersion work and I can’t be leaving the rest of them to deal with that.” Obviously he has lots to live for, and probably his children would cope with the immersion, but the things we tell ourselves at our worst are not rational.

It’s easier to have a sharp practical excuse quickly at hand than a long sappy emotional one. It’s the equivalent of saying “Can’t, sorry, I have plans” when someone you don’t fancy asks you on a date.

Sometimes I look at my boyfriend sleeping with his mouth open peacefully and think how awkward it would be if the first time he met my family would be at my funeral

Mine is that if I did die, loads of people I didn’t like would come to the funeral and write annoying social media posts saying things like, “She was such a kind, beautiful soul” (I am neither). Which is probably not a healthy response but here I am alive. Alive and slightly petty.

Sometimes I look at my boyfriend sleeping with his mouth open peacefully and think how awkward it would be if the first time he met my family would be at my funeral. I wouldn’t subject him to meeting a load of Australian uncles without being there to intercept. Sadly I can’t trust my mad family, even posthumously, not to ruin it for me with a boy.

Other times it’s for my best friend who makes me food when I can’t. “Do you want any of them pasta b*st*rds with sh*te in them?” “Ravioli?” “Yeah, them lads.” She’d have to fill the room in our house if I disappeared. I’d rather spare her the inconvenience.

Not to mention my mum and dad. They’re still raging they paid for all those clarinet lessons even though now I can’t even read music. They’d be really annoyed if I buggered off, especially when I haven’t cleaned out my stuff in the spare room yet.

I am privileged to have a support system and the means to get the help I need. I know this is not the case for everybody.

But I suggest if you are having these feelings, then tell someone, especially if the pandemic has left you struggling with your head junk for the first time. Starting with a GP. More GPs have saved my life than paramedics, because thankfully the former has put me on the right path before I’ve needed the latter.

Things do get better. I hate when people say that because sometimes they don’t for a long time, but for me anyway it’s worth sticking around to see if they do.

Right now I’m wearing a knitted hat on the beach in summer and I’ve cashed out a kidney for the privilege. It’s great. Well, it’s not – I hate it. But I’m just happy to be here.

Róisín Ingle is away