Depression is a leading cause of disability in the U.S., affecting millions of Americans.
It'd be understandable if someone suffering from depression didn't get out much, given that symptoms can include decreased energy, excessive sleeping and feelings of persistent sadness, anxiety and hopelessness.
But people battle this debilitating illness in a variety of ways, and 26-year-old Michael Loffler found a particularly awe-inspiring means of pulling through — traveling.
In a Reddit post, Loffler professed he'd dealt with depression throughout his 20s, but that traveling "breathed life into him" and provided some temporary relief.
So for three whole years, with just one visit home in between, Loffler journeyed to places like India, Vietnam, Mongolia, China, Nepal, and Peru, documenting his experiences through a series of photographs on a simple point-and-shoot Nikon AW 100 camera.
Pictured below is Loffler with a proboscis monkey on Borneo.
"Traveling is not a cure all by any means," Loffler commented in a Reddit thread. "It is temporary relief... If you manage to get out enough that you can make it on to a plane, you will definitely feel better, but remember, you're going to take all that stuff that weighed you down back home with you. Change comes from within, so try and utilize traveling to teach yourself how to fix what you need inside. Traveling is inspirational and definitely will transform your life, for the better or for worse."
In response to Redditors discrediting his illness because he seems to spend a lot of money on fun activities, Loffler says he worked hard to save up and travelled on the cheap. He cut costs wherever he could, couchsurfing, teaching English, hitchhiking, staying with friends and taking local public transportation.
Amazingly, Loffler is not a professional photographer and even his camera was cheap, but you'd never know it judging from the incredibly clear, artistic images captured.
"I wanted to show the beautiful places I saw that filled me with peace, in hopes that others may get inspiration from it," said Loffler in a Reddit comment.
Now, if these photos don't instill some wanderlust in you, then we don't know what will.
"The swing at the edge of the world. It really was quite awesome," Loffler wrote of this photo taken in Ecuador.
Ta Prohm, Cambodia
"Old temple ruins. Part of a large complex of other temples, best know as Angkor Wat. These amazing parasitic trees have grown into and taken over this temple."
Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia
"Two Cambodian girls out fishing for snakes in their 'boats.'"
Sigiriya, Sri, Lanka
"Steps that lead up to the palace on top of Sigiriya rock. A giant lion once stood, but now just his paws remain."
"Red sand beach created by erosion from the cliff edges then washing back ashore."
"Rice terrace workers."
Maya Bay, Thailand
"Three longtail boats all sporting three scarves in honour of the water spirit and spiritual goddess of journeys."
"A small desert oasis town. Pretty surreal actually."
"China really is the best at making dangerous tourist attractions. Notice the small glass platform built into the cliff face on the left."
Cocora Valley, Colombia
"The worlds tallest palm trees. The wax palm. My friend on the bottom right for scale."
Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
"A small mountain village I spent a night in while exploring Nepal."
"Snakes road I guess you could call it. A ridiculous bus journey to say the least."
"Two fancy dogs on an ornately carved balcony."
Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
"Small mountain village I stayed a couple days in."
"My trusty horse whom I spent 4 days on, wandering the Mongolian wilderness."
"Incredible effort went into making these rice terraces. Generations of families dating back hundreds of years. No machinery."
Catba Island, Vietnam
"Lunch with a view."
"Normally there should be a beautiful body of water here, but because of drought, this small lake has been dry for a few years. Flowers try to make up for that fact."
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