stories Travel

How traveling saved my life

I have been wanting to write down my story for a long time, but I was always too afraid or I would block when I finally started. Now I decided it was time, so here is the story about how traveling saved my life. More than once.

I want to share this with everyone because I am ready to heal and start living my life how I want to. It is part of my healing, but I also want to show you who is behind this blog. This is me. It made me how I am now.

Traveling saved my life. To get this part, I need to share my whole story. I will end with how traveling helped me.

Please be warned that this is a heavy and emotional story. It was hard for me to write, but also very hard for my family to read. If you are struggling, then it might be able to help you a bit. If you can not handle or like heavy stories, you might want to skip the story and go to the : ‘How traveling saved my life’ part.

It is a long story, but I hope to help other people with this. This is my story of how I experienced it. It will be different for everyone. But even if I can open some eyes and help one person, it is worth it.

WithCaitlyn and nephew in Utrecht
My nephew and me enjoy a day in Utrecht, the Netherlands

Elementary School

I really loved going to school, for as long as I can remember. I never knew that it was possible to lose that feeling. Group 1-3 (like ages 4-6) were great. I had friends and playdates and had fun. We would always play outside in the mud and rain or play inside with barbies, drawing or whatever else we decided to do.

Around the end of group 3 and the start of group 4, the bullying started. One of my best friend somehow decided she did not like me anymore. Or something like this, I still don’t know. She got the whole class against me.

I was not allowed to play with anyone anymore, they would call me names, bump into me without a reason. But, I liked learning, so I went to school every day and tried to enjoy.

I always reacted on stuff. So if they would call me something, I would react something like ‘that is not my name, my name is Caitlyn’ or stuff like that. Now I know that this kept them going.

I think most people can relate if I say: The worst part is not knowing WHY.
If I knew why they did not like it, I knew what to change. But to this day, I still do not know why.

In group 5 (ages 7/8) a new boy came into my group. He had ADHD and was very funny. He found it hard to concentrate and relate to people. But somehow he would be calm when I was around and explained things.

So I finally got a friend. Well, someone who did not bully me. I started hanging out with him and his friends. We both liked the same kind of stuff, so I was really happy that I met him. I also really liked explaining stuff to him. (Maybe he is the reason I like teaching?)

The bullying kept going until group 8, the last year of Elementary school. I was 12 and I was done. The bullying had been going on for 5 years, I did not enjoy school anymore. As my mom was a teacher, I actually just stayed at home and learned there. I would do anything so I would not have to go to school. My mom called the school to tell them I was sick a lot of times.

I had some kids in the neighborhood that I played with, but it is not the same, you know. We would play outside a lot, but they were 4 to 8 years younger then me.

The weird thing is that on the last day of school she said she was going to miss me. We always have a musical where everyone participated and then the teachers will tell something about everyone. When we were in the changing room after the whole evening, she was crying, saying she was going to miss me and that we should keep in touch. I walked out of that school cheering.

I only went back one time for an activity of my little brother. My problems were not going to ruin his day. So I went and I was just hoping not to see anyone I knew.

The first try

One day, I had enough. Instead of walking to school, I walked to the park. I had brought my book and some food. I just sat there. Unable to concentrate on my book, my mind was going crazy. The only thought I had was: The train is only 5 minutes away.

So after a long time, I went to the train station. I followed the tracks a bit, so I would not be at the station. And I waited. The train just passed, so I had to wait half an hour. Nowadays I am so happy that I had to wait.

I was ready. There I was, just sitting on the track, waiting for this train to hit me. I was done with this life and all I wanted was to end it. But at times like this, you notice how long half an hour is.

In that half an hour, I thought about how much I would hurt my family and that I could not do that to them. I realized that they love me. There were people that loved me.

A minute after I walked back to the station, the train passed by. I could not do it. I was so happy the year ended and I did not have to go to that school anymore.

After that day, I fantasized a lot. What if I just hurt myself enough to end up in the hospital, who would visit me? Will anybody visit me? Does someone care? Did I make an impression on someone? Does not matter who, just someone.

I never did though. Because I knew if I would try something like that, I was going all out and end my life. Not just hurt myself, but also the people I love. I could not just do it half assed. So I kept going and tried to make the best out of it.

The reason I had chosen to use the train was only so that my family would not be the ones to find my body. I could not imagine my mom coming back from work and found me somewhere in the house. So I wanted to do it a way that they would not be the one, but this would end up with someone else having this picture in their head for the rest of their lives.

A special case

When I had to choose my High School, I was obligated to this one location in one city. They had rules like these towns go to this school. But I knew that the one girl was going to that school with a few others from my school.

We were moving the next year to another town. If I lived in that town, I would have had to go to another location. After a lot of asking and begging, I was allowed to go to the other location right away, instead of switching after one year.

This meant one year of cycling 1 hour and 15 minutes to school and back. Luckily, my mom’s work was close, so I could also ride with her sometimes.
But I would have flown to the moon and back for this.

High School

I was so happy! I was going back to school where I did not know anyone. This meant a fresh start. Or so I thought.

There was one guy in the class, with very rich parents, who decided he did not like me. As he was rich, he bought the whole class to bully me. You know, the kids would get a red bull and a sandwich if they did not talk to me. Stuff like that.

I met a few kids that were in the class of my mom and we were a fun and nice group. The first year was nice. But then we got split up and we were done.

The second year I was trying to connect with them a bit, but it was not really successful. So I mostly hang out on my own.

During the first and second year I went to a special therapy for teenagers. This meant I missed some classes. This rich kid told everyone once that I was standing on the tracks, but that I was too weak to go through with it and that I should have done it.

I also did not have any friends outside of school of my own age. I babysat a lot and I loved it, but you can not really say that that is hanging out with friends right?

The third year was the best, but also the worst. The guy got worse and worse. He was throwing his peanut butter sandwiches in my hair, ‘accidently’ delete my paper from the email from the teacher and more stuff like that.

But I also made some friends. They were one level above me, so they were studying the same stuff, but a bit more extensive. At school it was nice, but we did not hang out a lot after school. Sometimes, but not a lot.

I felt horrible. I did not sleep, ate nothing or everything and was just thinking why? Why? Why me? Somehow they love bullying me and I did not know a reason.

The rumor about me standing on the tracks kept spreading and I started to believe that is was true. That I should end my own life. So I went to the tracks. But the same thing happened. I could not do it. I could not hurt my family.

So I ended up just taking the train and spend the day in Rotterdam. Just to be away and alone. Thinking and especially thinking that I am weak. I could not even end my life. This happened three times in total, in a span of 2 months.

When I think back, which is really difficult for me. I do not understand how I ever thought this. My life was not worth anything? How can one person, one person? make a life so miserable that you want to end it?

The fourth year was different. I started to fail my classes, Instead of making A’s and A+’s (10’s in Holland), I started getting D’s and even F’s. (5-2’s in Holland). I lost my motivation. I would study for hours and not see improvement.

There was one boy in my class. He failed the class, so he was doing the same year again, which resulted in following the same class. He was very on his own, same as me. So we started talking and I started hanging out with him and his friends.

Then I heard that I was not going to make the year and had to re-do the year. I wanted to leave that school. As soon as possible. So I decided to go college.

My parents did not agree. I had to finish the school and learn. I had the brains for it, so why not? But I said no. I was going to leave the school.

College in Holland

I use the word college because then everyone knows what I mean, but it is like the school after high school. There are a few different levels.

  • MBO, this is the lowest. Mostly focus on doing and not studying from books. SO things like building, police and other DO jobs.
  • HBO. This is the middle education. Here you learn from books. This is to become a teacher, manager and stuff like that.
  • University, The highest level. This is really for the lawyers and that kind of education.

From halfway of my level of High School, I could go already to the MBO.

College

I had to decide in one week, what I was going to study. Personally, I had three choices. Teaching assistant, cooking and tourism. I choose tourism because I can cook in my time off. I also did not want to be a teaching assistant, because I want to be a teacher. So the choice was not that hard.

I was also interested in learning new cultures and I always liked the holidays we took with the family. It was a perfect way to escape your crap and reality.

It was in the middle of summer vacation when I got my school books. My parents were still not happy with my decision, until they saw how I reacted on the books. I actually read half of them before school even started. I was so excited to do this.

The first few weeks were great! There were a few girls in the class that were really nice and we became friends. We were a group of 6. We would hang out after school, meet up and go to the movies and stuff.

After a few weeks, a new guy came to our class. Again, I was the one he decided not to like. He kept calling me names, saying stuff about me etc. I was going crazy and he was so annoying!

He was a very popular guy and the whole school knew my name because of this. They would look weird to me or would join him with the names. Luckily, a lot of people did not do anything, they just knew.

But I had friends, I was not alone. I still felt bad, but not bad enough to do something. There was one girl that really was my friend. My best friend. I have so much to thank her for.

The second year, our group was broken up. 2 girls stopped with the study and I got in a really big fight with one of them. This caused the loss of two friends for me. One of them, I have been trying to rebuild our friendship, because I miss her, but it doesn’t work.

Recap

So in short, I went to three different schools and at all three I got bullied and it was impossible for me to make friends. The people I talked to were more like normal classmates than friends. We would not hang out after school or something. Or they were ‘friends’ for just a few months.

Internship in Greece

Part of the study was an internship of 5,5 months. I choose a travel agent and went to work as a travel guide. I was located on Crete with a team of 7. 4 Danish and 3 Dutch. I can not thank them enough for saving my life. They may not know how much they helped me.

Believe me, I told them that they really helped me, but I still wonder if they know how much.

First, the work was great. I got to help so many people and help them have a great holiday. Of course there were complaints and problems, but I just loved the work. I felt appreciated.

Secondly, the team. We had so much fun. We would go for dinner, play a board game and everything. Our team leader was exactly who I wanted to be. She travels a lot, did volunteer work in Jordan, works abroad and did not care about what people would think. If she liked something, she would do or wear it. Why not?

This showed me how I should be and I started caring less and less about other people’s opinion. One of the other Dutch girls was just so nice. She helped me with everything she could help with and was just there for me. She really became my sister while I was abroad.

They really opened my eyes and made me want to travel even more. When I started the study, I wanted to travel. But after meeting them, I needed to travel.

My first solo trip

During the internship, I saw a promotion from Ryanair. Tickets to London for only €20,-. So I just booked it. They inspired me so much, I just went for it.

It was a great week. I discovered the city, spend time alone and mostly, focused on me.

I love going to musicals. So what did I do? I went to a musical every night. I had four nights and I saw 4 musicals. London is a great place for this of course.

One day, I did not feel like doing anything. So I just went from park to park and enjoyed the street artists. I would sit on the grass, read my book and enjoy.

I also went to all the restaurants where I wanted to go to and the best thing, I ate in a few restaurants of Jamie Oliver, who is one of my idols. Just because it was possible. I loved it.

Graduated and done

So I finally was in the last year of the study. After the internship, I was ready to work instead of going to school. I liked the working.

But when I got home, my back gave up. I had a problem with both my stomach and my back and this caused me to stay home for 10 weeks, not able to do anything.

10 weeks of not even able to go to the supermarket, is tough. I could not cook, sew, anything. The only thing I was going was watching series and reading. But after a few days of binge-watching, it is nice to do something else.

You get bored and start thinking. And when you think too much, you get negative about everything. I started wondering who I would be if I did not travel, if I was not bullied, What would have happened if I succeeded in ending my life.

When my back was finally better, I went back to school. Only to discover that I was not learning anything. The only subject where I was learning something was Spanish. This was why I started skipping school. It was a miracle if I would go one day in the two weeks.

I had never skipped school. Except for those 4 days. Not even left an hour early. If I did not go to school, it was in consideration with my mom and she would call me sick. But I never stayed home before and told my mom school was okay that day. Lied to her, so she would not know I did not go.

I was studying at home, as much as possible. But I got a depression. Well, you don’t just get a depression, but everything came out. My whole history got too much for me and I exploded.

The worst thing is that the doctor did not believe me. After a few weeks, I finally went to the doctor to go to a psychologist. I was too young to have a depression. I had a depressive period.

How can you tell someone, as a doctor, that it is just a period and it will all be better. I did not feel comfortable talking now and I did not tell everything.

Hearing this got me so discouraged that I stopped going to the psychologist after three appointments. I told her that it was going a lot better and that I felt good.

As I had to lose some weight to save my back, I was going to the gym every morning, I was learning new recipes and the rest of the day I would do nothing.

This also really helped me. I never liked my body. After I lost 15 kilos, I started feeling a lot better. I was not fat, but my boobs were way too big and mentally it was killing me.

Everyone always want big boobs. But I can tell you, you do not. I had to buy shirt that were 4 to 6 sizes bigger than I needed, just because they wouldn’t fit otherwise. It is mentally really difficult if your closed it full of XXL shirts or size 48 while you are able to fit a M or a size 40/42. You will feel fat, even though you are not.

I made my exams and I graduated, so I was finally done with school. And I mean really done. With all my experiences with schools, I will never go back. Not to a school like this.

Feeling like a burden

So, this is the first time I am putting everything out there. I am writing this with tears in my eyes. I had locked all these memories and nightmares away.

I always had the feeling that I complained so much and that I was just annoying to my family, especially my mom. I felt like a burden.

My mom was always calling my teachers, setting up doctor’s appointment and even meeting up with teachers to get them to do something. She did everything for me what I needed and I felt like burden for it.

I was always negative, could not enjoy things or I would fake it. I did not tell everything.

I started telling less about the bad things and focus my stories about the good things. I started making things up. I would tell my mom I went to a movie with friends, even though I went to the movies alone, as usual.

Surely, I am not the only one that feels like that. And I know everyone will say that I was never a burden. But is feels like that. I would not sleep for days, or only sleep for a couple of days.

But if the only thing you do is complain, you feel like a burden. My parents had to do this and this and that, just to make me feel a bit better. And sometimes it did not even help, but I would make it look like it did.

A while ago, I started being more open with my story. But never like this. I can be more open now because I feel better. I am not healed, but it is going better. I never told the whole story. Just part of it.

I would say that I stood on the track once, or that I had a depression. I did not say that I stood on the track four times. Thinking I was weak for not being able to do it. That I would think about it day and night. I treated it like a small thing, even though it is huge.

I still have days that I can not go out of bed, be happy and enjoy. There are still days that I will stay in bed and do nothing. Just stare at the ceiling. But now I have a day like that every few months. Not every day.

It takes time, progress. I do not fantasize about hurting myself anymore, because I know there are people coming to visit me. People do care about me. It took me years to realize that, but now I do. And I can not imagine how sad they would be to see me like that.

Now I talk about it. It is still difficult. Sometimes people start talking about suicide and I can not be in the conversation. A while ago some people kept talking about being fat and bullying and I started to cry. One girl saw that it was hurting me so much, that she tried to change the subject.

A small thing like that can mean the world. We started talking about something else and I could join in again. When we walked back to the hotel, I just said thank you. She nodded and asked if I was okay. That can be enough.

Working in Spain

The company that I had my amazing internship with, asked me if I wanted to work for them. As I had an amazing summer, of course I wanted to work for them!

This time I was going to Spain, Costa del Sol to be precise.

It was horrible. The team was okay, but not as great as I had in Crete. They were all about going out, and I do not like that. So it was just not a good fit.

The team was also not big enough, so this caused that I had to do the work of 2 or even 3 people on my own. I never even heard a thank you.

This actually made me quit. And I do not quit. But I met a guy here and we became friends. So at least the summer had something good happening.

WithCaitlyn in a buggy, Andalusia, Spain
Buggy tour in Andalusia, Spain

Back in Holland

So September 2018, I returned to Holland. I had no idea what I wanted to do. The company my mom worked at, needed some help. So at least I got a full time job.

But it was not what I wanted. I know what my dream job is, but I got rejected with every company I tried to work for. I was going crazy.

I was just searching for jobs and travel days at the time. I could not think clearly anymore. I would stay the weekends in bed, just wondering what kind of purpose my life has and what I should do.

So first, I decided to use all my saving to travel. But then this friend from Spain said something and it made me think.

I did not like the job in Spain, but I do like the country. He mentioned his school a couple of times, so I looked into it. He lives in his parents apartment and had an empty room.

After a lot of discussions with my parents, we decided that I should do this. So I booked the school and I would stay at his place. It gave me something to look forward to. But first I was going to Thailand.

Semi solo to Thailand

I had booked this trip during my exams and I was so excited for this! I was going alone, to Thailand. I got a backpack for my birthday and I was ready for this.

I met the group at the airport. It was a group of 17 solo travelers, traveling together. So I was alone, but it was organized and I could meet some new people.

It was the best holiday I had so far. My birthday was actually in Thailand and it was great! When I met them at the airport, they were strangers. But after just a few days, they were friends.

It showed me that there are people in the world that like me, and that people can be nice and that I deserve some fun and positivity.

WithCaitlyn in Thailand
Snorkeling tour in Krabi, Thailand

Starting a blog

The guy from Spain made a joke about using my binge-watch talents for good and that I should write reviews.

Little did he know that I would start one. But well, I start a lot of hobbies and stop after a month.

This caused my parents not to believe in me when I said I was going to start a blog and be successful. But when I kept going for over a month, they started to believe in me a bit. Now they do support me and I am happy for it.

It actually gave me something to do and to work on. It kept me busy. I put my energy in something. If I don’t I will use it to think negative about anything. I felt like I got a purpose again.

Going to Spain

January 6th 2019, I went to Spain. I was going to study Spanish for 9 weeks and then I was going to Lisbon, because I got a job there.

When I walked into the classroom, I had to present myself. Well, I can do that in Spanish. But then the teacher was just talking Spanish and I did not get it. I really though I made the wrong choice of coming here.

But after a few days, I got more and more and my Spanish really improved already. The classmates were also great. They took me in and we actually hung out.

I went to a company to apply for a job and I got rejected, hard. When I called my mom to cry it out, she told me something that really meant a lot to me.

“We miss you a lot here and we want you to come home, but we never saw you this happy, so if this is what you need to do, do it.”

So after this phone call, I decided not to go to Lisbon. I started looking for an apartment in Benalmadena and called the company to say that I can not come. I fell in love with Benalmadena. And I made friends.

I was happy.

My parents came to visit me after 7 weeks. They met my friends, we played tourist, but we also signed for an apartment. It was great to see them and I realized that I also miss them.

On monday 25th of February 2019, I moved into my new apartment with a new friend. The minute I walked in, I felt like I was home.

Flowers in Benalmadena Pueblo
Benalmadena Pueblo, Spain

Support and believing

After I had the call with my mom in which she said the miracle words

“We miss you a lot here and we want you to come home, but we never saw you this happy, so if this is what you need to do, do it. ”

It said enough for me. They believe me. Even though they probably did way before this, they believe me. I realized it. That causes miracles.

My parents are doing everything now to make me at least a bit happy. They are supporting me financially, so I am actually able to be here in Spain, but also with my dreams.

After I saw them here, I realized I miss them, but not enough to go home. I need to do this and it is so good to know that they support me in this. I have been in Spain for less then two months and I feel so much better already.

Of course I want my family close, but I feel that this is the step I have to take. To start a new life, a fresh start.

It actually inspired me to write this. To get my story out there and try and help others. It takes so much strength of people to tell their story and I want to show them that it will get better. You just have to keep going, how hard it is and it will probably get even harder.

But also the other people that support me. I don’t use names, but you will know if I talked about you. And I want to thank you so much for it. You probably did not realize how much you mean to me, but you did.

It is so difficult to show how grateful I am, so I hope this says enough.

How traveling saved my life

I may not have traveled as much as some other people, but the travels that I made have been life-changing. And the fact that I am only 20 might also be part of it. I have traveled quite a lot for my age.

The last 4 years I made about 3 to 5 trips a year. From 4 days to 6 months and I loved them all. Before these last years, I traveled at least 1 time a year. Most of the time this was camping in the south of France, Spain or the Czech Republic.

During my trips I could escape reality and finally relax a bit. It gave me peace and quiet. To have some real me time and actually enjoy things.

It was also the way for me to meet new people and see that there were people I liked and where I could be myself with. These people only know the real me and they liked me. So they showed me that the real me is fun and that I could make friends with that.

During my travels and trips I could be myself and really get to know what was the real me. Not the fake me I have been a long time.

I realized I liked the real me more than the fake me and started to be the real me more often. I started to enjoy more and more. Not only on my trips, but also at home and at school and I noticed that I was changing my view on life.

Eventually I actually had fun and made better choices in my life. I ended up going to Spain and now I am living here.

Withcaitlyn in Corfu
Corfu 2018

The lessons I learned while traveling

I learned to love myself and not to care about what people think of me.

I made friends, even though I did not change myself. They like me for who I am. It made me realise that I am great how I am.

It showed me that the real me is way better than the fake me and I like that.

I discovered that there are nice people and not just the bullies that I used to know.

It made me love my country more. When I was in Holland and got bullied, I hated holland. I did not like anything about it. I just wanted to leave. No matter how. Dead or alive.

But when I started traveling, I started to appreciate Holland. And now I even miss somethings in Holland.

Most importantly, It made me see what I really want. I want to see the world. Learn new cultures, heck learn even more languages!

I learned that my story made me how I am not and I am actually grateful for that. I like how I am now.

I learned to be happy.

No promises

I do want to say that it helped for me. I am not a therapist and I do not promise this is a solution. If you have any problems or thought, please talk with your family or go to a doctor. They can help you.

Everyone had another way that works. Traveling helped me. Maybe cooking or painting or even skydiving will help for you. Please get help and find what works for you.

Why I love traveling

Traveling means so much to me and it keeps growing on me. It showed me I am alright and that I can be myself. I can enjoy life and be happy. That I am supposed to be happy. 

There are so many things travel can learn you. From history and culture, but also how to be you. This is how traveling saved my life.

Please share this story if you want to help me help people. Let them believe you can fight and win this battle!

How traveling saved my life, 4 times
Why I love traveling Traveling means so much to me and it keeps growing on me. It showed me I am alright and that I can be myself. I can enjoy life and be happy. That I am supposed to be happy. There are so many things travel can learn you. From history and culture, but also how to be you. This is how traveling saved my life.
How traveling saved my life, suicidal - happy
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4 Comments

  1. Jer 10 March 2019
  2. Michael 15 March 2019

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