Depression on vacation: a not so romantic Venetian tale

Featured Articles

Side profile shot of a young person looking straight ahead having depression on vacation in Venice. They fill up most of the right of the photo. Venice is in the background.

©andreamangoni / Adobe Stock

Depression on vacation: a not so romantic Venetian tale

This is a true story of depression on vacation in Venice and how it ‘rocked’ me.

Ah, romantic Venice. You know, snuggling in a cute little gondola, serenaded in Italian by a gondolier and all that crap. By the time I had gotten there, I had already completed two weeks out of my three-week solo backpacking extravaganza(!) to Italy. It was the trip I secretly hoped would relegate depression —my companion—to the backseat. My companion, however, was interested in no such arrangement. Depression on vacation was about to get very real.

Thanks to medication-induced coordination problems, I had wiped out in the middle of the street in Rome, making sweet love to the pavement. So I was already hobbling by the time I reached Venice. Classy all the way! I soon concluded that the world was full of jerks. People who were happy to stare at the Tensor elastic bandage wrapped haphazardly around my ankle, but couldn’t be bothered to offer assistance as I made my way up and down stairways with the speed and stability of a 90-year-old woman.

Depression on Vacation really sucks!

My depression seemed to set the tone for the remainder of my vacation. I had multiple bouts of crying in public, as well as a meltdown after being sexually harassed by a creepy hostel worker guy. I was burnt out from visiting museum after museum that I didn’t give a crap about because of the ever-present depression-induced apathy. I also wished I had some sort of invisible shield around me because the crush of tourists was so agitating.

Oh, and did I tell you that Venice is full of canals? It turns out you simply can’t get around without using a boat unless you’re a crazy, hardcore swimmer. So I was a bit concerned about that. Why you might ask? Well, I’m a puker—on planes, trains, and automobiles, but especially on boats. Once, on a snorkeling excursion in Tanzania, I was convinced that death would be preferable to hanging over the railing and barfing over and over and over again. So yeah, Venice was a bit of a concern, what with all the canals and boats and such.

Read more:

Little did I know that having a mental illness would come in handy! By the time I got to Venice, I was totally overstimulated, and my depression had funneled all that energy somewhere else. The outlet of choice turned out to be my balance, which was already a little wonky from my medication. I developed what Dr. Google refers to as rocking vertigo—basically, I felt like I was constantly on a boat. If I were sitting, I would end up rocking from side to side as though I was trying to balance myself on an imaginary wobbly boat. Any time I was awake, I felt like the ground was moving beneath me.

It was indeed odd, and I’m sure I looked like a weirdo as I rocked in an attempt to counterbalance the non-existent movement beneath me. But the cool result was that I didn’t get sick on the mini-ferries I had to use to get around the city. Rocking around on the boat didn’t feel any different from rocking around on dry land, and since I didn’t get sick from the pseudo-motion, I didn’t end up with motion sickness. Score!

When I got home, my depression heaved a sigh of relief and put the kibosh on the pseudo-motion. These days, if people notice me, chances are they’re staring at my medication-induced tremor. To be honest, I’d rather be that weird chick rocking out on a moving dance floor only I could feel.

Article by
Ashley Peterson

Ashley Peterson is a mental health blogger and psych nurse. She's a fighter against depression as well as the stigma around mental illness.


It was the trip I secretly hoped would relegate my depression—my companion—to the backseat. My companion, however, was interested in no such arrangement.