Bipolar: mania vs vagabonding (staying safe?) (1 Viewer)


Dec 24, 2021
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TX but I'm looking for a new homebase
My mom called and said she's worried about me being manic, flights of fancy and all that. I had a whole trip planned out but she said a $40 motel doesn't sound safe.
I am bipolar, mental health is really important to me (I have a mental health first aid certification! but it's hard to do first aid on yourself...)

I think I am being maybe like 20% reckless tho, not 70% or whatever. I have like $800 saved up, which is pretty good savings considering that I have a new job I'm going to in a week. ~$200 for a motel, $300 for a flight, I have food stamps for food so I certainly won't starve. I can busk for some coffee money if I really need it.

My mom & dad both think I should try to hold down a 9-5 and get an apartment. I really, really don't want an apartment. I want to find a middle ground, someone to talk to that understands the need to wander but be safe doing so... All my friends say I should get a "normal" job and go on a vacation once a year, which just sounds so lifesucking.
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Glass Roads

Jan 20, 2019
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Pullman, WA
I don't know your mental health circumstances, but it sounds like ya know having a 9-5 and an apartment wouldn't be to good for your mental health. Parents and 'normal' people are always gonna worry and suggest otherwise. Maybe put off traveling long enough to have funds saved up for if ya end up having a really bad time you can travel back and get a place? Mix that with maintaining a somewhat regular contact with your folks should put yourself and everyone else at ease.
Wishing ya safe travels.


Wise Sage
Aug 9, 2020
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I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder many years ago. I went on and off various medications, had some pretty bad periods, been hospitalized, etc. Now i don't take any meds and have been relatively stable for years, because i discovered what my biggest triggers were and just structured my life to avoid them. Sometimes i still get a little bit scared that when i do something that "the mainstream" considers dangerous or wild or whatever, perhaps it's the start of a manic episode... But then i have to remind myself that one of the triggers i need to avoid is endless fucking navelgazing and obsessing over whether everything happening in my life is an episode.

For me, just the act of worrying about if i'm about to spin out is a catalyst to me actually spinning out. I find that it's healthier to just chill, go with the flow and live the life i want to live - without constantly stressing about whether that life might be teetering on the brink. Turns out a lot of things really aren't all that reckless, especially if you are single and don't have any kids or other responsibilities. Practice mindfulness, wu wei, litany against fear, whatever works for you - basically whatever philosophy just says "yeah, this shit is happening, and that's life, i am going to bend and flow and work with it, and if it doesn't go how i hoped or expected, that's fine, i'll pick myself up and dust myself off and figure out the next steps because that's what life is".

I can say that sleeping in a $40 motel is far from reckless. Yeah, motels around that price range can be a bit shady. There will probably be sex workers, drug addicts and/or drug dealers in nearby rooms. But if you mind your business and move onto the next town within a day or two, chances are very good you'll be perfectly fine. You might get some bites on your ankles if there's bedbugs. Check the reviews and pick the best $40 motel. And if you're getting a really bad feeling, don't be afraid to cut your losses and go somewhere else. Whichever motel you end up at, it'll still probably be safer and more comfortable than trying to find a rough camping spot. And yet, this website is full of people that sleep rough for days and weeks and months on end, so even that is a lifestyle that you can learn to do in a safe way if you keep your wits about you. It's only reckless if you just charge out there completely unprepared, but it sounds like you've got a decent plan. Make a backup plan too if you want to be really secure.

As for whether a 9-5 is worth it... I mean, yeah, life is more secure when you have a 9-5. But it doesn't sound like you're going full-blown jobless vagabond, you still have some plans for work here and there, and plenty of people live pretty comfortable lives doing seasonal work and odd jobs. It might make it harder for you to retire, but who cares? The way i see it, if you've learned how to live off not very much when you are young, then you can probably continue to live off not very much when you're old. You don't need a big house and a car and all the other things. A lot of people overestimate what they need to be happy. Part of traveling is figuring out what exactly it is that you need to be happy. Some travelers travel for a while and then buy property or an apartment because they realize they like having a home base. Other ones don't. There's no right way.


Dec 21, 2021
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San Diego
I have been diagnosed with "Bipolar" too, but I consider it more of a label used by people who often have a very different experience and approach to life than me - so it has limited value in my experience.

I've tried meds, counseling, etc. but the only thing that really worked for me was getting out into this dirty, crazy, mean world and trying to have some meaningful relationships. I think travel and exploration have helped me "heal" a lot. Sometimes it's painful, but that's the cost everyone incurs - including "normal" people. LOL.

So my 2 cents: Do what you feel comfortable with, get to a stable place in your life, and push your boundaries gradually... basically it's like exercise... you build slowly. Baby Steps - like "What About Bob?" (old Bill Murray movie reference).

Lastly, be careful of what your family says. I don't know your situation, but in my experience, "personality dysfunction", "mental illness" - whatever you want to call it - is often starts with the family. Again, you are the expert on your life and family, so I'm not giving you advice, but I can tell you that getting away from my family was very painful, but it was one of the healthiest things I did in my life.

FYI - if you have addiction or dysfunction in your family, you could try to talking to people from the organization "Adult Children of Alcoholics". Even if there's no alcoholism in your fam, they are basically a group of people from messed-up families that meetup and support each other... like peer support.

Anyways, I don't mean to be preachy. Just sharing. Good luck on what comes ahead for you! Hey... you got some cool folks you can talk to here, right? :)


Matt Derrick

Permanent Wanderer
Staff member
Aug 4, 2006
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Austin, TX
i think you'll be fine. you can even skip the hotels if you don't mind rough camping. you just gotta look for safe spots where it's unlikely others will go. forests on the side of an off ramp, under bridges, etc.

it sounds like you already have a plan and money won't be too big of an issue so you're likely in much better shape than most people in your position, so i say go forward :)

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