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No matter how advanced society becomes, there still seems to be a certain pattern to life. Certain things are expected of us. We’re supposed to go to college, get a good job, get a promotion, buy a house, get married, have kids, raise said kids and then….. well, sit around in that same routine until the end of our lives.

All this while maintaining a respectable appearance, a good circle of friends and a career. And though not everyone conforms to this strangely unappealing “norm” that someone once created, the pressure still falls upon us to have/do all of these things. You might not realise it, but not fitting into these molds could be subconsciously stressing the hell out of you.

I always knew that manufactured idea of a life wasn’t for me. Not to say that there is anything wrong with it, if it makes you happy. But for me, the thought of it filled me with dread from a very young age. It still does.

My Story

where is tara povey top irish travel blogger

The article in U magazine – Thanks to the wonderful Sarah Kiely for including me.

Recently I contributed a short piece to an article in U magazine about the pressures that we face in our 20s. The responses I received from all around the world were so incredible. In fact, they inspired me to write this article.

What I wrote for U magazine was only a tiny portion of the story. Let me fill you in on the rest. I recently turned 31 and here’s my story of drugs, depression and travelling the world.

When I was 22 I graduated from the Royal College of Surgeons with a Masters in Pharmacy. My family were proud. I was exhausted. My degree had been a struggle and to say the same about my masters would be a massive understatement.

By 23 I had a permanent job with a large pharmacy chain. I was paid well. I had a two bedroom apartment that I lived in by myself. I was dating a man that was madly in love with me.

So that’s career – tick, house – tick(ish), relationship – tick. And for a little while I was happy. I mean, I was supposed to be happy with that, right?! That’s what everyone kept telling me.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved where I was living – Torquay, Devon is a beautiful place. I loved my apartment. I even loved my staff and MOST of my patients. I had great friends around me. But there was something wrong. I just couldn’t explain it.

The Signs

where is tara povey top irish travel blogger

Full time pharmacy life does not agree with me

I first noticed it mid-2013 when I started to go to bed straight after work. Work till 6pm, home by 7pm, in bed by 8pm. I didn’t have a TV in my room. I would just lie there. No matter how much sleep I got my mood was unstable. I’d go from singing songs in the dispensary (where we keep the drugs in the pharmacy) to crying in the toilets so that my manager didn’t see.

One night I came home, got straight into the shower and cried like I’d suffered a serious personal tragedy. It wasn’t quiet,pretty little sobs like you see in the movies. They were angry, loud, wailing tears. The kind of tears I hadn’t shed since I was a child. And I had NO IDEA why. I just had this dark empty feeling in the middle of me. By 2014 there was rarely a day where I didn’t burst into tears in work or at home.

My mother came to visit me once and I started crying when she was leaving, because I didn’t want to be alone with how I was feeling. I ended up running out to the car-park after her, desperately hoping she hadn’t left yet, balling my eyes out. I could barely breathe through the tears. And when she asked me what was wrong I didn’t know what to say. All I knew was that I wasn’t happy. She was worried about me then.

**One evening in 2014 I needed to go to the local shop for some bread. It was only a 3 minute walk from my apartment but it took me a lot longer. My limbs felt like lead and I could not shake the extreme fatigue I felt. I was less than 50 metres from the shop when I genuinely thought that I just couldn’t go on.

It seems ridiculous now. I can’t even imagine feeling that tired, but at that time it was SO REAL. I looked to my right and there was a little alcove at the front of a cafe and all I wanted to do at that moment in time was to give up, curl up in a ball and go to sleep right there. That really terrified me. I ended up sitting on a bench just seconds from the shop, crying. And again, I just could NOT understand why. I never made it to the shop.**

Of course, not many people knew what was going on. I didn’t talk about it, I lived by myself and most of my close friends had moved away by then. Technically, from the outside, everything was going great for me. I was doing so well in work that they wanted to promote me.

I had smashed all my targets. But my manager knew that there was something wrong. She wanted me to talk to my Doctor. And I really considered it. I knew from pharmacy that medication could help people, but I wanted to do everything I could to fix my life before I turned to anti-depressants.

A couple of times fellow pharmacists had come into my pharmacy to fill their prescriptions for anti-depressants. And as I handed it out to them I thought to myself, is that what’s going to happen to me? Is it just inevitable? Is it just part of that 9-5 grind?

That was when I realised that I had to make some changes in my life. I needed to change what I could about my situation and hope that it made a difference.

Helping Myself

where is tara povey top irish travel blogger

Making the decision to change my situation and help myself.

I had no set plan. I just knew I needed to change everything. I CRAVED change. I was desperate for it. I started with my relationship. By that stage I was completely indifferent. He wanted to settle down (you know, gotta stick to the “plan”) and the very thought of it horrified me. I found that once the relationship was over, I felt a weight lift from my shoulders. The darkness was not gone, but the edge was taken off.

I started doing little things to try and take better care of myself. I started running again. I needed that serotonin boost. I only listened to music that could be considered “up-beat”. I bought things I liked and tried to eat healthier. I never stayed late in work and I started practising meditation to clear my mind.

After much consideration I realised that my life had gotten off track. It wasn’t one thing in particular, it was everything. I didn’t WANT all those things that people/pop culture told me I should be happy to have. So, I decided to remove myself from the situation, to remove myself from that cookie-cutter life that I had fallen into.

For a long time I blamed my job as a pharmacist for my unhappiness. If anyone works in a medical environment then you’ll know that it can be extremely stressful. And the company I worked for continuously put incredible amounts of pressure on their pharmacists to achieve targets that are unreachable, well, at least without compromising patient safety.

There was, in fact, a plethora of articles about how this company (mis)treats their pharmacists – leading to compromised patient safety and mental health issues with their staff. And I am the first to admit that I was desperately unhappy while working for them. However, I can’t say that my job was the reason for my depression, but it certainly pushed me to make the change in my life that I needed.

I left my job, I gave up my apartment, I said goodbye to my friends and I bought a round the world ticket. That’s when I started this wonderful website that you have all come to know and (hopefully) love. Some people thought I was brave. Others thought I was crazy. I didn’t feel brave – I was just desperate to help myself. It felt like the obvious thing for me to do.


where is tara povey top irish travel blogger

Loving life on a press trip in Israel.

I’m not going to say that travelling got rid of the darkness and suddenly made me prance around the room like a cheerleader. It didn’t. But it changed my perspective and reminded me of who I really am. I still feel the emptiness sometimes, but it’s fleeting and manageable.

There are times during my travels when I am exhausted, hungry and irritated. Travel is not always glamorous. I often suffer from travel burn out. But never, NEVER, do I cry with the emptiness and hopelessness that I felt before.

I am so overwhelmingly happy with what I’m doing with my life at the moment that I could never feel ungrateful for it. All I have to do is remind myself that I used to spend my days crying in the pharmacy bathroom and a smile spreads across my face, no matter the circumstances.

**SO, now I travel the world at the invitation of tourism boards and airlines. I meet incredibly interesting and varied people from all corners of the globe. I’ve had photos featured in Lonely Planet and other major travel publications. I’ve written travel articles for national newspapers. I do what I love and somehow manage to get paid for it.

I am truly happy with where I am in my life at the moment, even though I live at home, have no permanent job and am not even thinking about marriage or kids – HEAVEN FORBID. Most importantly, I can’t remember the last time I cried that wasn’t PMS-related (damn those beautifully tear-jerking Hallmark movies). And that’s a pretty big deal for me!**

Oh and if you think I did a terrible thing by giving up a high-paying profession that I trained for 5 years for, then fear not! I still do the occasional pharmacy day in Dublin. I’m not one of those “quit your job and travel the world” people. But I pick and choose when and if I want to work at all. And I generally only choose the high-paying, fairly quiet pharmacies.

It means I get to keep up my knowledge without stressing the BEJESUS out of myself. My website is now my full-time job, but I did work 1.5 weeks of pharmacy this year. I don’t have to ask anyone for permission to go on holiday. It’s really worked out incredibly well in that respect, though I didn’t foresee that as an option when I was at my darkest. It really is very surprising how life works out sometimes.

And my family have finally come around to my big life change. For quite a while my mother kept trying to “fix” my “problem”. But it wasn’t something anyone else could fix. I needed to figure it out for myself. And I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not fully there yet, but I’m on my way. Anyway, the journey is most fun part, right?


where is tara povey topirish travel blog

Swimming in a secret waterfall in Sri Lanka with some of my favourite travel bloggers, drinking coconut arak with our wonderful butler Eranda!

If you’ve been a part of my experiences, adventures and misadventures over the last two years I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart because every minute we’ve spent together has helped me to change my life for the better. Thank you to my family for understanding that I am not always around. Thank you to my friends who forgive me for not always keeping in touch, but welcome me back with smiles and wine.

Thank you to my boyfriend who complains very little about me constantly staring at my phone/laptop and working on my website. Thank you SO MUCH to everyone and anyone that reads, shares, likes and comments on any of my posts -you make my day every day. And thank you to all the wonderful writers, bloggers, photographers and travel industry member that have made up my travel-family over the past 5 years for all their knowledge, support and guidance.

I know this has been long, so THANK YOU FOR READING. And if you’re struggling with anything or thinking about making a life change, PLEASE  reach out to your family and friends, leave me a comment or send me an email. Love you guys!

where is tara tara povey top irish travel blog

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30 Responses

  1. Gil Sousa

    While reading your story I found myself back to where it all started for me too. I think I never thought of it in this way, but I also had my share of depression when I was studying, but due health issues with my father and feeling cornered in life. That’s when I decided to apply for a exchange students program and “run away”. My life haven’t been the same since, I also had my down moments, but that decision was a turning point for me.

    • Tara

      Thanks so much for sharing Gil! I really appreciate it and I’m glad you feel better 🙂 xx

  2. Olga

    So great to see you open up about this! We all have dark places inside of us, and yet I feel that behind the whole travel galore, people very very rarely expose their fears, dreams, depressions… which only makes it worse.

    When I was going through depression (it took me a while to figure out I was actually having a depression, tbh), at first, I was completely unable to speak about it. I would cry on my own, hide it from people, put a smile on my face, pretend everything was okay… It only when I realized that I’m in an EXTREMELY dark place already that I decided to come clean about it. I then moved to another continent.

    I think, as you said, traveling isn’t a cure for depression. But it makes you connect with people, connect with places, connect with yourself — and, since people tend to shut themselves away when they’re depressed, this feeling of connectedness does make you feel better.

    I hope you continue being this amazing confident smart beautiful women that I met in Israel, and that things will only get better for you 🙂


    • Tara

      Olga this comment *tears up*. Thank you so much for reading and for sharing your experience! You’re amazing and I’m so glad I met you in Israel xx

    • v

      i found myself back to where it all started for you…
      i know that crying and dont know whats the reason because ..everything should be / is fine actually.. i think it s important to share these things.. you give me hope and i think about travel the world to … maybe this is a way for me to be mental healthy again i dont want to take legal drugs but feel to be forced to manage my life here

  3. Mike Huxley

    This is such a powerful post and one that I can 100% relate to. I think it is so important to talk about these things, if only to remind others that they are not alone. I am happy that you have at least found some level of peace and balance through travelling, and I know that will only get better with even more adventures in the future.

  4. isabella

    Hi tara! amazing story! thanks a lot for sharing it.
    all the very best to you.
    happy travels!

    • Tara

      Isabella! Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Really appreciate it. I hope you have a wonderful 2017. xx

  5. Nikki Godwin

    Aaaah Tara, this post resonates with me so much. Thank you for sharing such a personal post on some issues that rarely get addressed. Here’s to a great 2017 which I am sure will be full of many more adventures for you 🙂

    • Tara

      NIKKI! Thanks so much for reading. Really appreciate it. 2017 is gonna be AMAZING for us! I know it. xxx

  6. Aleksandra

    Thank you for sharing your story. I read your article thinking to myself: another one of us 😉 I went through a similar period a few years ago. Initially I also thought my job was the problem but then I changed my job to one that really started me on a downward spiral. After hitting the bottom I finally started to listen to myself, and my body – I suffered from chronic fatigue by then. I quit my job, moved back to my home country and have been recovering here for the last year… I’d love to start traveling too, just not sure where to start..

    • Tara

      Hi Alexsandra! Well if you have any questions about travelling please let me know. I was able to fund myself in the beginning because I had quite a lot of savings. But there are so many ways to travel on any budget. I’m so glad that you’re recovering and I wish you all the best in the future. Thank you SO much for taking the time to read my article. Means so much to me! xx

  7. Christina

    Way to go, girl! It’s great that traveling helped you get rid of that feeling! And you’ve accomplished so much with your blog, impressive! I am finally creating a travel blog too after I’ve already been to 52 countries and a few years of traveling. For me, the depressions didn’t go away by traveling but it’s worse when I’m “home”, that’s for sure. Keep up the great work! ??

    • Tara

      Hey Christina! Thanks so much for reading! I’m so glad you enjoyed the article. Let me know when you have your blog up and running. I’d love to take a look at it. I don’t think travelling gets rid of anyone’s depression, but it certainly helped me figure out what I want in life, which helped with my happiness.

  8. Barry Ratter

    I left that company as well in 2012 after 38 years of intermittent misery. The last line manager left a lot to be desired. He came from M&S and thought he knew it all. My Pharmacist colleagues used to call these grocers ‘cabbage heads’! Not very pc I know but they were total pratts. After a massive row over a partially empty baby PUR fsdu, I told him where he could put it and walked out. Below is not my real name but good luck with your travel blog which looks good. I now locum a couple of days a week and am much much happier.

  9. Ruth

    Loved your post Tara. You’ve pretty much described how I’ve been feeling recently. I’ve also just packed in my career and I go travelling in January. I’ve also just started a blog, so fingers crossed it works out as well for me as it did for you!

  10. Maruszka

    Hi Tara,
    I’ve had my story of depressive disorders too. I’m older than you and my life has been full of drastic changes (different professions, different countries to live).I still haven’t figured out what works best for me. But I remember I felt the lowest when I didn’t have a regular job. I need routine which will get me out of bed even when I don’t feel like leaving it. So full-time travelling and freelancing is not an option.
    Recently I got myself a prestigious job, in a corporate pharmaceutical (sic) company. But it’s so demanding and time-consuming that I’m not happy. Probably the best thing for me would be to work part-time, or to have a job which is strictly 9 – 5 (not 9 – 8 as my current one). I just need to figure out what that could be…

  11. Aisling

    Thank you so much for this post! I feel like I’m stuck in a similar place, and oddly enough, I’m feeling that the best way out is to search for travelling opportunities. You have given me courage and inspiration!

    • v

      me too .. i m glad that i m not the only one and you have given me Courage and Inspiration too .. thanks a lot!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Ephraim Muchemi

    Thanks for sharing your story. I have been having an on and off time managing depression, but travelling the past 15 years has helped me manage it really well, and so far even when I am not on the road or air, I do feel like I am getting stronger by the day and owning my full self once again, piece by piece.
    I have wanted to share my story but never felt ready to let myself vulnerable, and your story is motivating to let us speak up and acknowledge it is okay to acknowledge it and speak about it for there is nothing to be ashamed off.

    Thank you so much once again!!! Happy travels!!

  13. Sarah johnson

    I can feel the situation from which you have gone through. this is a very brave step in my opinion. I don’t have the courage to quit all this. let’s hope one day I will do the best for my rest of life. Thnks for sharing this beautiful and inspirational story with us.

  14. Alex

    Hi Tara, one thing which is common between you and me is that I am also Sagittarius. I also wanted to travel the world as I am inspired by you and many other bloggers too who travel the world. Thanks for sharing the article, it encourages me, cheers!

  15. Lulu

    Hi Tara, I came to your blog because I’m an artist and have just decided to do an embroidery piece of a person vomiting haha and was looking up reference images and came across the one attached to your post about being sick whilst traveling. Firstly, I love your writing style, it’s very personal, which means I can really hear your personality thru your words. Very engaging, just as I’m sure you are in “real” life. After reading that post, I immediately thought of the few times I’ve been sick during my travels and can tell you that being sick on an airplane is awful…that being said, I did get to ride in one of those carts you see speeding along the thoroughfare of an airport, usually with an elderly person hanging on for dear life. Also, I was lucky to be meeting my Mom at the layover point, because she’s a nurse and happened to have a suppository to combat nausea – thank god for mothers and their penchant for carrying every possible thing they (or someone nearby) might need, ever, like truly EVER. The best part was when she asked me, a 21 year old, young adult, if I needed help getting the suppository in, in a public bathroom, in O’Hare Airport, one of the busiest airports in the US. I haven’t thought of that story in years (I’m 49 now, so when I say “years” I mean it) and it still makes me smile. I lost my mom to cancer a few years ago, so it was nice remembering that funny, if not bizarre, story. I’ve led an unconventional life and spent much of it traveling, not as smartly as you do…I was a bit more lowbrow, staying in squats and the like, and although I don’t have much to show for it, no retirement, house, etc, I don’t regret one second of it. In fact, I’m hoping to save up enough to buy a little home on wheels, so I can spend the rest of my days traveling. Like Paulo Coelho said, “The ship is safest when it is in port, but that is not what ships were built for.”

  16. Lulu

    Also, I realize that I should have put this comment under your sick + traveling post, but had originally meant to address what you talked about here…so I’ll leave a little food for thought. I have a wealth of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, OCD, PTSD and more and am on medication for all of them, but when I’m traveling I almost NEVER need my meds. Staying still allows me too much time to think about what’s wrong with me and the world, which is why I need the meds, but when I’m traveling, I’m too busy planning my next destination, or where I’m going to sleep that night or just having a blast, to worry about anything that isn’t attached to that very moment.


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