The Nomadic Life- A Cure For Depression?

Holy moly, after months of being without my rig, I am back in. And it feels GREAT to be back in my RV. I gotta tell ya, this life feels so right. I am not talking about RV life. I am talking about living this NOMADIC life.

Joshua Tree South
Current situation. Joshua Tree South. 100% free.

Why not RV life specifically? Because one could live in an RV in the same campground or the same area for decades. That’s not being nomadic. I am nomadic, as I constantly move and I have no home base. I will even be (happily) houseless, as soon as my rental sells.

I have finally come up with a theory about why being a nomad feels so right. A theory that explains why I am happier than I have ever been.

It took a while to figure it out, but my reasoning has not wavered, and I am rolling with my answer. Before I get into my theory and the explanation behind it, I should give you a little background about my life before I became a nomad.

Frustrated In the Suburbs

Before I get to my point, in the spirit of being completely open and honest with you, I’m going to share something that is not easy to admit, but here it goes…

I used to live like most everyone else. In a place that was owned or rented. I had to stay still because of a job. Very common.

What’s not cool is when I lived in a traditional manner – house, job, etc, I really struggled on and off with depression. I really also struggled to find “the meaning of life” types of questions, which is basically impossible.

Yeah, it sucked. Literally, I contemplated the meaning of life on a pretty regular basis. To me, life felt meaningless. It was very disturbing to feel that way. I occasionally even took anti-depressive medication, desperate to escape the frustration and sadness and the “what’s the point/what’s the meaning of life” questions that friends knew all too well that I struggled with.

It felt like something inside of me, a basic, instinctual need, was not being fulfilled. Something was wrong with my life. I was driven to find more meaning. Living in one place, going to work 5 days or more a week, and coming home and “updating” the same house and the same yard (for 12 years) had become colossally unsatisfying and surely wasn’t helping. I knew that I wanted to travel more or to move again, but I couldn’t until I could. I didn’t really know the reason behind why I felt so miserable.

The Big ‘Change’ – Nomadic Healing

One day I realized I hadn’t been depressed for months. What had changed? I had become a nomad. It was a pretty big life change. About 10 months into my new lifestyle, I started realizing that I hadn’t been depressed since I hit the road. I wondered if it was a coincidence, but it’s now been almost 3 years, and I STILL haven’t experienced any depression. This made me wonder, “Why am I no longer depressed?”.

Why did I feel so content all of a sudden? I have thought about it a lot. And I kept going back to the same reasoning. I finally feel I can share it with you because I feel pretty strongly now that at least for ME, it’s a correct assessment. It might hit home for you as well. This is my opinion. Nothing more.

My Nomadic Cure For Depression

I am starting to believe that we humans have a basic need, or drive, that has been taken away from us by living in today’s society. I believe it’s a need that most of us aren’t really aware of. You may feel it but not understand what the need or the frustration is or stems from. What is this alleged need?

The Need To Roam/Hunt/Search For Our Basic Needs For Survival. 

Sounds kind of funny when I type it out that way. It’s a need that we need… to fulfill our basic needs? Well, yeah.

No, you’re wrong. We DO hunt; we go to work to earn money to buy the things we need…

Yep, we do do that. But most of our jobs are easy, physically. Also, the jobs can be predictable and not very challenging or inspiring. I was a personal trainer and Pilates instructor for about 15 years. Loved it, but it did get old after a while doing it with the same company in the same place.

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We, as a species, used to have to hunt and gather things just to stay alive. What did we hunt for?

Food. A place, or places, to live. Water. A Tribe. Safety.

When we conform to the almost unavoidable traditional lifestyle of living in one place for a long time, we lose the fulfillment that comes from these types of “hunts”. We live in one place. We go to the same grocery store. We know exactly what’s in each aisle in that store. We go to the same gas station on the same route to the same job. There is no longer any physical hunt.

Our hunts have been replaced by complacency and repetition. IMHO, repetition=boredom. Boredom is a recipe for many types of personal human disasters. Some call boredom, or an idle mind, the playground of the devil. I don’t call it that, but I do understand the meaning behind the saying.

Is it possible that this boredom or lack of a challenge can lead to us getting busy doing other things to satisfy that urge? (I’m talking about things like alcoholism, drugs, cheating, gambling, excessive shopping, and things that aren’t so bad but do kill time.)

I used to work in my yard a lot in my spare time. I also went shopping in town. I would always be looking for the next thing to do to keep me “happy”. However, I still fought depression and pondered the meaning of life, questioned who I was, and felt a general sense of unease below the surface.

An Odd Analogy Using The Dog Whisperer

My theory reminds me of Cesar Millan’s teachings about dogs. He speaks about how we should fulfill our dogs needs over our human needs. Dogs are animals. They are driven by instinct and DNA. They have a few instinctual drives that they cannot ignore.

The dog’s biggest needs are to travel for miles (exercise) and to follow a calm, assertive leader. The human’s biggest need from the dog is love and companionship (affection). Most humans give way too much affection (human need) and way too little exercise (dog’s need) to the animal. We box them up in our house and yard and limit them from going on long walks every day, denying them of their need.

The lack of fulfillment (usually exercise) for the animal forces it to release its frustration in other ways. Most commonly, they release their pent-up energy by doing things like excessively barking, pulling on the leash, fighting, or tearing up the couch while the owner is away.

They are attempting to release their energy, but it often is not enough for them and so they continue doing the “bad” thing.

Was I The Human Version Of A Frustrated Dog?

Let’s compare my theory of a human having a basic unfulfilled need to a dog having unmet needs. I wonder, if our ancestral need to hunt or move forward is not met, does this cause us to try to fulfill ourselves in other ways?  (As in does it contribute to general unease, depression, and bad habits?)

I know that I, for instance, used to “feel better” (temporarily) when I worked in my yard. I loved to go shopping (a form of hunting) at Lowes or Home Depot and get new plants, mulch, whatever it was, to be “moving forward” with something.

These days, I do zero yard work and I do very little shopping. (Especially for things I don’t really need.) That time and energy is instead spent on finding my new route, deciding where to stay next, finding gas and groceries, getting propane, finding a dump site for my tanks, meeting up with friends, maintaining my truck and rig, watching and following the weather, and of course, working on Camp Addict.

One could argue that I am doing pretty much the same thing- keeping busy. Very true. The big difference, however, is that now I do it to stay alive. I have to be present to do these things. I can’t be on auto-pilot. There is no auto-pilot when faced with the unknown.

Moreover, the REAL difference is that I am not depressed anymore. I also barely ever contemplate the meaning of life. I just live it. It’s as if I don’t have time to question it. I think about it on occasion, but not at all like I used to.

How Can The Nomadic Life Cause Happiness?

Ok, so let’s look at how I live my nomadic life. How does it relate to how our ancestors lived? No, I don’t have to kill my prey in order to eat. But I do have to search out and find food in the form of a new grocery store. I know it may sound ridiculous, but I really think that there is something to this.

I have to find the cheapest gas station. I have to make sure my rig can drive into and out of the gas station with plenty of room. I have to find propane. I have to move according to the weather so it’s not too hot or cold to live in my RV. I have to find a route to find my next camp. I have to decide where to live next.

I see new landscapes and new things I have never seen before on a fairly regular basis. Life stays fresh. I meet up with my “tribe” along the way.

 

P friends at the Wagon Days Parade
With my tribe at the Wagon Days Parade in Ketchum, ID

 

I am kept alive by being kept on my toes. It feels right and it makes me happy.

Our ancestors had to hunt for “utilities” as well, also for their food, for their clothing, for shelter, etc. Again- it’s not exactly the same but it’s closer to living the way they did than our modern lifestyle affords us.

Keeping things new, for me at least, works. It killed my depression. I am more free and happier than I have ever been. I am not saying that RV life is for everyone. I am not even saying that living nomadically is for everyone.

I am sharing the fact that for myself, being a nomad is working. I am happier than I have ever been. Will this change? I don’t know. All I know is that for now, I am happy and I am rolling with it.

A Nomad’s Thoughts On Traditional Living

From day one, we are told to chase the American Dream. Go to college, graduate, get a stable job, buy a house, get married, have children, go the distance with that job, become empty nesters (if you don’t get divorced first), retire, then travel if you are still physically able to do so.

I’ve done most of that game in the past. It didn’t work for me.

I can’t help but look back and roll my eyes at my old life. I bought a house. Fixed it up. Paid out the wazzoo in interest. Paid out the wazzoo in insurance. Paid out the wazzoo to play with it/remodel/fix up the yard.

If I could see a grand total of how much of my hard earned money I spent on that place, and on shopping for other ‘things’ (pretty much all of which I no longer even own) I think I might vomit.

And that’s just the one house. I have bought three in my lifetime.

Ugh.

I am not saying I was miserable all of the time. That’s far from it. I did fun things. (And here’s a bunch of photos of a younger Rv Chickadee…)

I went to parties…

Party at Watercolor
Christmas party in Watercolor, Fl

…and concerts.

Third Eye Blind at La Vela
At a Third Eye Blind concert

I went for drinks with friends.

Watercolor Girls

I traveled.

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Visiting Kylemore Abbey in Ireland in 2014
Monty Roberts Join Up clinic
Monty Roberts Farm in Solvang, Ca

I volunteered at Alaqua Animal Refuge, where I ended up adopting Gizmo from.

Athena at Alaqua
Brushing Athena at Alaqua
Gizmo
Gizzie!

I went to the beach.

Beach with family

I had a part-time family when we had my ex’s daughter at my place.

Fun with a box

I still found humor in the weirdest things and places. Like this news report on some new restaurant that opened in nowhereville, Fl. They had to wear these stupid chicken wing ‘hats’. I felt SO sorry for them, but it also cracked me the hell up.

IMG_20120205_223825 2IMG_20120205_223820 2

I went to Halloween parties, one of my favorite things to do.

IMG_0902
I’m Lady Gaga. I even did a costume change
Croft and Jones
I’m Lara Croft. Pictured with Indiana Jones

I made a showplace out of my yard, and I really did enjoy it, for a while.

 

ducks in yard
Feeding the ducks at my old house

So as you can see, I had good times and good moments for sure.

Still, these days, especially after getting a good taste of this new nomadic life, I choose to live my life outside of the box.

My new nomadic life is full of adventure as well. Well, I’d say it’s had much more adventure if photos speak louder than words…

 

All fun aside, even back in high school I remember thinking about living in my vehicle. I wanted to buck the system. Cheat it. I fantasized about this to avoid the crazy high cost of buying a house or living in a rental.

And here I am! I’m very close to living out of a car. (Thinking that a van is a good next option, too.) A lot of people would laugh at the notion that living in a vehicle could be someone’s “dream”. Of course they will. That’s fine.

I DO have this type of a dream. It’s not so much about living in a vehicle, it’s about the freedom that comes along with the choice. Freedom to choose where and how I want to live. It’s about being happy. It’s about the freedom to live without being depressed and without questioning the meaning of life all of the time. It’s about simplicity.

I am no longer a slave to a mortgage or a year or more lease. I choose to live for free on public lands. I can go to a campground if I need to. Right now, my cost of living is pretty much limited to gas and propane, which is NOTHING compared to my old cost of living.

Living in a van down by the river has provided me with all of these freedoms. Yeah, I dig it.

 

 

 


38 thoughts on “The Nomadic Life- A Cure For Depression?

    1. Lot of interesting things about this particular blog – the honesty of the observations and assessment of various attitudes for causal effect being one. But what came through the most is the true JOY and fulfillment you have attained by examining your “drives” til you found your answers – THAT took some courage. As always, you are witty and upbeat and have a talent for choosing just the right graphics and pix to convey the point(s) you are making. Well done, and may your growth and fulfillment continue … as well as your blogs, of course!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Yes, it took a while to figure everything out, but thus far, I think the blog explains why this life resonates with me. I truly believe that many people could benefit from this lifestyle or at least aspects of this lifestyle, but they don’t realize it. Thank you girlie, I will continue to try to grow spiritually and emotionally and I want to continue assessing the pros and cons of this lifestyle. For now, it’s working! Hugs…😁

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  1. Once again you have nailed it. The ability to get up and go, the drive to find the next “beach” is not only a basic necessity it’s Instinctual. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my home base her in Texas but I feel best when the wheels are turning down the road looking for the next beach.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I couldn’t agree more, Greg. 😊 I think a home base is pretty normal as well, just not quite like we do it in this modern day. I originally had talked about moving forward more, using the analogy of how people feel when they’re traveling or driving down the road, but I took it out. But my head does often go that down that road when I’m thinking about it. As in, why do we feel so satisfied when we are moving as opposed to sitting still, like in traffic. Anyway, maybe that’s another post for another day. Thanks for the reply!

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  2. I can relate to soooo much of this! While I still encounter some occasional bouts of depression being a nomad has definitely helped! I think you’re on to something here…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, selfishly, I’m glad it’s not just me! And I’m glad this has helped you, too. It’s just something that I ponder frequently and finally had to put it out there. It works better than any antidepressant ever did for me. And again, just “feels” right. I know you get it.😌

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  3. LOVE LOVE LOVE this! I can absolutely relate to all this, hence why we now travel full time as well. (Marilyn from happytorvhere). “Normal” life was not cutting it anymore and I was so restless. To the point of a bit crazy. Yes, our house was nice, I loved decorating it, working in the yard, hanging out with friends, meeting for drinks, riding my bike to work, etc, etc…but it fell short. Way short. I am so glad we found an outlet for all that pent up ‘life in a rut’ frustration. Road life really is something magical. And even more magical when shit isnt breaking left and right. My friend send me this quote when we just started on our adventure and I don’t think it could be more true “If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine it’s lethal”. So glad we both found adventure!

    Anyway, great post! Thanks for sharing. Heading your way tomorrow! 🙂 Toot toot!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, very similar stories! I agree, I liked doing all those things as well but yeah it fell short. Exactly, routine is lethal, at least for myself. And yay! I hope we get to meet. 😁 You coming to jt south or are you going to a campground?

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  4. I too can relate and I find depression setting back in if we stay in one place too long. I need to change the scenery. Unfortunately, this year we won’t be moving very much due to personal reasons. Keep those wheels moving!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awe, I’m sorry to hear that, Ingrid. I hope the blues don’t set in too hard for you. Maybe you can take some mini trips. 🤷‍♀️ Well Hopefully it’s not permanent. Having something to look forward to is always a bonus!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great reflections and philosophy! Thanks for sharing!

    And after seeing catastrophes happening here and there and possibly happening anywhere, man-made like chemical releases, oil spills, nuclear accidents and like, or ever increasing radical weather events like the recent fires in California or the flooding in Texas. Being able to be mobile, I feel is more important than ever. So many people have nearly no choice but to stay put and endure, and hope they survive the devastation. Nomads can hopefully dodge most of the bullets, with much fun, adventure and happiness along the way!
    I am fortunate to have made some lucky strategic decisions early on as to have my land and home paid for, no utility bills and a very simple sustainable lifestyle, and I live in an amazing area culturally and with endless outdoor adventures to partake. ……..still, with all of the endless trails and ridges to enjoy the immense vistas and beauty here in western North Carolina, The area does have a certain degree of commonality from one ridge to the next and one trail, river, waterfall to the next. The remaining 49 beckons.

    I am eager to get my funky, fun solar powered camper built and join the festivities! Part time in the beginning, most of the time following……

    The hunt, the new, the excitement! Bring it on!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are spot on. The other 49 always beckoned to me as well, but I was stuck just like so many other people are. I would rather spend my money on experiences over things. Still, with a full-time job, it’s pretty hard to do much traveling. I made this life happen for myself and I am proud of it. I just want others to know that it’s possible. It just takes some planning and possibly some new education of some sort. I hope you get to explore more as soon as possible! Cheers.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Nice description.
    I look at it like “Getting Bored” with the current situation at the time, living in Seattle in a Condo. Used to do a lot, diving, hiking, paragliding etc, but stopped for various reasons and then became bored. Used to go out on Weekends, Tear Drop Trailer for dive Camp Outs etc and then did a month and luv’d it so much I had to ask myself, “self? why are you heading home…” Thus started the Full Timer plan 2.5 yrs ago. I just luv the ‘Adventure’ of it all and am only limited by what I call the “FFB”s… (Fuel, Food, Beer).. Many routes planned, Alaska, Canada, St John’s on the East before hitting the East coast.. so lots to do, Adventures await.. Boredom gone..
    So good share…
    Happy Trails..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Such a great story!!! Very happy you found your happiness, Frank. Yep, home is where you park it if you want it to be. Just have to think outside of the box a little. This is a big country, should keep you busy for many years. Me too! Happy trails to you as well👏🏻🙌🏼

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  7. Hey hey! Long time stalker here. I just wanted to say I absolutely LOVED this article and want to thank you for sharing it. You’ve always stood out to me (public face, i don’t know) as the kind of “bouncy, happy, go with the flow, oops I did again but oh well I’m still awesome” that I always wanted to be. I too found a cure for my depression and nihilism in travel. I’d describe my experience more like running away from suck in search of an elusive geocache of happiness that ended up being in my pocket the whole time. Lately I’ve been slipping back into the swamp of sadness and your article was a perfectly timed pick-me-up for me. Anyway, thanks for being!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awe you’re awesome Valerie!! And thanks for stocking. I don’t know if it was an intentional word you used, but I love your line “running away from suck”. Heh. No! Don’t be Artex!! Just don’t forget, we are on a dirt clod spinning around in the middle of nowhere in the middle of space somewhere. To me that just means we are pretty damn insignificant, and that helps me to realize that life just is, and why not fucking have fun with it?!!! You are the director and producer of your own play. Hell, why not make it the best, most fun play you’ve ever watched!? That’s how I see it. Hope that helps. Thanks for commenting and reading, my blog would be nothing without you!

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  8. Hi Kelly! Enjoyed this latest posting that Yvonne brought to my attention, especially the dog versus hair gif. I want to extend you an invitation to RV your ass to Lago Vista this summer and we’ll waste/spend a bunch of time on the lake again. I’ll get you set up in our POA’s campground or you can driveway squat if you’d like. I know you’ve got other peeps in the ATX so come on over.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hay Aaron- I had to watch that gif about ten times to figure out if it was real or not.😂 Decided it was, but think it has probably happened before because why would they be filming that? Anyway, Thanks for the invite! What is your poa? I’m not planning to head there this summer, but maybe next? That was so fun last year. 😁 And yes, I would DEFINITELY need a power supply, so I could have air conditioning 😬 Ir I’ll sweat my balls off. 😂

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      1. Here’s some info: http://www.lvpoa.org/amenity.asp?id=3
        You’ll need me as a property owner to sign you up, IIRC. The park is generally pretty underutilized except for the high holidays of the summer. And I do own an empty lot next to my house that’s free, so there’s that. I think i could rig up up some 30A 220V or whatever you’re running. Water and waste water is there too. So come this summer! Why wait? (Of course, we’d be glad to have you anytime you want)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I have other obligations this summer already, but y’all keep in touch, I’m bound to get back to atx sometime soon! Supposed to be in tx in October. Not exactly summer! 🤷‍♀️

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  9. excellent post! Good going for getting clear of all of that. Something else i think happens when we are static, rutted – we start comparing and measuring ourselves (because we are pretty much told to) against the ‘standard’ which then implies we are lacking because we are an exception to it. Nope, nada, we are simply in a place that doesn’t make our hearts sing and our brains light up. Conformity has benefits but not if it costs us our souls. Get off the island 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes- also, where I park and camp is often removed from “regular” society. Therefore much of he time I am free if the pressure to conform to certain “standards”. It’s really nice. Instead, I travel in and among a community of people who have much in common with our outlook in life. We all rejected the traditional lifestyle. Went our own ways. And I think most of us are pretty “awake” and happy!!

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  10. I think you’re on to something! For as long as I remember, I have been envious of “homeless” people. Seeing them walk around the city, on their own time, wherever they wanted to be (or so it appeared to me). I never thought much of it until I saw that RV/vehicle living was a real thing that people CHOSE to do – even when they had money/homes/etc. I’ve done the whole thing I saw as what I’m supposed to do… bought homes, married (and divorced), and constantly wanted to move to a new house/city. My boyfriend and I now live in our RV – and while we’re in one place now because of work, we plan on wandering. Thank you for your insight!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Are used to stare out of the traffic in my senior year English class. I was so jealous of all those people had the free will to be really wanted to be and be doing what they wanted to do. I guess we have taken thinking to the extreme! I hope you get to wonder soon.❤️

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