#GOAHEADGIRLS have a desire to travel. Heck, who does not? Most people seek a break in their daily routines and set off to vacation. However, traveling can involve much more than that. It can fulfill aspects of one's life the average person may not have thought. While there are many reasons why people venture, some say traveling can make them healthier. Tai Rothwell is a beautiful young woman who was battling mental illness and prescribed medications. However, through travel is now living her best life. We were moved by her story particularly her courage and persistence of fulfilling not a temporary desire, but a physical healing. Tai surely will inspire others and encourage people to look at travel with a wider lens.Battling Mental Illness, Healing & Finding Purpose in The World.
-Words by Tai Rothwell
The mid-20s 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 and finding my desires in life with no restrictions. I was ready to experience the height of my life that everyone raved. 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. Diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Unfortunately, I did not 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 teary eye 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 afraid of life. I feared for my own life. Anxiety now turned into severe depression. I was now diagnosed with depression and receiving help.
I was already 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 someone introduced me 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 cannot live my life without traveling. In the last two years, I have gone to Canada, Bahamas, Nicaragua, Mexico, Egypt, Belize, and Thailand with long stopovers in Germany and Zurich. Three trips, in particular, had a huge impact on my path to healing, my spiritual journey and finding my sense of purpose.
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 fell 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 have ever encountered?” During my stay, I started my healing physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I began 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 felt my heart start to beat again.
Embodied in Cairo, Egypt
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 vast amount of fear traveling to the Middle East. I got the opportunity to see my history through my own eyes. I was inspired by the Kings and Queens who came before me. I also was given the opportunity to connect with a group of people from the U.S. 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 connected to my history beyond readings in a school textbook. Egypt helped me to feel connected and embodied.
Nourished in Thailand
I traveled to Thailand for a deeper connection with my spirit. Drawn to the spirituality of the Asian culture for years, I wanted to take steps towards my spiritual enlightenment now. 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. Strive to be the best at all times, even through pain and dissatisfaction. 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 taking 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. I am still searching for my reason for which I exist as most of us are, but travel has given me a whole new light. I do not know where I would be without it. I may have still been crying in my bed. I am not sure but, what I am certain of is that I am happier, livelier and less fearful of life. Travel is an essential 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 gotten easier. I think it is something that everyone should experience. Through my knowledge, I am hoping 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 have a mental illness, but we can learn something from each of our experiences. Traveling the world is an experience you can receive growth. I did, and it saved my life. I believe there is a piece of us all over the world. I encourage everyone to travel and pick up the pieces. I am finally starting to feel whole again. Next stop Dubai.