It hadn't occurred to me I was delaying getting back on the road because I was afraid. I thought it was just because I couldn't find the right van, wasn't making enough money, had two cats to care for, and on and on and on.
The truth was, I was afraid. I was 14 years older than the last time I lived in a van. The last time I lived in a van I was homeless. The last time I was in a van, alone, it was "safer" somehow. I had twice as many fears as I had reason for not getting back on the road. "I love my shower, and my flush toilet," I said. True. But I could have a shower and a toilet on the road – maybe not as nice, but still. I wouldn't have to poop in a bucket.
I started writing down what my REAL fears were, and almost instantly started to feel better.
PANIC ATTACKS, FOOD, AND FEAR
As I laid in bed last night, fighting off yet another panic attack, I realized, the attacks set in when I thought about a new van build, or anything related to full-timing. Yet, I day dreamed about being in a van headed west, my cats curled up contentedly at my side. So where was all this fear coming from? I had left the grocery store earlier, almost consumed by it. I'm diabetic, so when I got back home I checked my blood sugar. It was high, but not dangerously so.
I called a friend of mine, a nurse, and told her what I was feeling. She immediately asked, "Have you taken your supplements today?" Actually, I hadn't taken them in days. I'd run out and hadn't bothered reordering. At least now I knew the feelings of impending doom weren't "real" (in the sense there was really impending doom), but chemical. It’s a well-established scientific fact that we really are what we eat – or at least our feelings are directly related to what we eat. Nutritional deficiencies can bring on mental health disorders like depression, panic attacks, and even dissociation, while a nutritionally complete diet can help reduce, or even eliminate disorders.
Certain natural vitamins are known to have a particularly positive effect on fear, anxiety and depression. Vitamins are great, but getting them through food rather than supplements alone, can turn your moods around completely, as long as you take them consistently. I usually take Vitamin D-3, Vitamin C, Ashwagandha, and Magnesium. Those four are the top vitamins known to reduce stress, fear, and anxiety. When I take them consistently my panic attacks are almost non-existent, and my depression is minimal - and my bowels are regular! The regularity is a natural byproduct of the Magnesium and Vitamin C.
This morning I reordered my vitamins and then went down to the grocery to pick up the Vitamin C and Magnesium. Those are the two that have an almost immediate effect on me. (Side note: Most – as in three fourths! of women with breast cancer are found to have low levels of Vitamin D!)
When my father died of brain cancer in 2006, I quit my job, bought a used van $750 and hit the road. He hadn't started traveling or living really until he got sick, and regretted it. I didn't want to regret not living. I was working seven days a week, 10-12 hours a day and for what? So I ditched it all for the van life. I'd lived for more than a year in a full-sized RV and loved it. A van wouldn't be that much different - or so I thought. Unfortunately, the van didn't look this "good" until after I found an apartment and had the space, time, and money to work on it. But once I had it outfitted, it was great!
The short story of my van life is in my TED Global Talk. What I thought would be full-timing turned out to be being homeless. If I'd had an RV I could have parked at Camping World, where I was working full-time, and been fine. But a ratty old van (not painted at the time), screamed "homeless" to my co-workers. That was odd since the business was all about selling stuff to people who lived in their vehicles. That just went to prove my point - that homelessness is about having money or not, and choices.
The van was old, and eventually threw a rod and was sold to the scrapyard for $400. I used that money to buy a $400 Saturn van. I fixed it up, but then sold it to buy a Dodge Caravan...and was almost finished converting it when it too, threw a rod after a mechanic forgot to fill the oil after changing the oil. My next car was a Plymouth Voyager. I'll post photos of it later. $900 (I paid too much). It's now a dream car, although not much to look at, it's a work in progress. But it runs, is dependable and fun to drive. I recently bought a 2000 Isuzu Rodeo. It's still at the mechanics getting brakes and new hubs etc. but for $800, it was a deal. My goal vehicle is a NEW Dodge Ram Van - the tall one you can stand up in, or not. I'd like for it to be diesel so I can put in a wood burning stove.
I've always (since I was 14 years old), loved to camp, hike, fish, explore and travel. I'm now 63 and still intent on getting back to a traveling lifestyle - van dwelling, camping etc. I'll stay at hotels from time-to-time, but I love the van life. It's not for everyone, but it's worth doing for at least 3-6 months just to know you can.
When you live in a van you become more independent, confident, and capable. You learn to do things you never thought you could do. You survive, and then you thrive. You let go of fear. Yes, you'll still be afraid, but it will be different. This website, blog, and advice is my way of giving back to those who have chosen to live in their vehicles, as well as those forced to live in their vehicles. I hope you find something here that inspires, or helps.
If there's something you'd like to know, or if you have a question, contact me or leave your comments in the comment section below.
VanDwellingWomen is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com and its partners. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. Thank you for supporting this site and helping me make it the best solo women's van dwelling site on the Internet!