How moving out of NYC was great for my mental health

Please subscribe to my newsletter to get writing news and updates.

When I was younger and growing up in Southwest Florida, I got it in my head that I wanted to live in a big city because I was SO very bored with my life back then. I set my sights on New York City (the biggest city in the U.S.) and moved there for college with the plan of staying there forever.

Everything was going according to plan until, almost twelve years after I moved there, I left New York City for good. Although there were some weird parts about moving out of the city I loved, I know that I made the right decision because, ultimately, leaving NYC has been good for my mental health.

Here’s the thing: A part of me feels like a failure for saying that. I feel as if the city was “too much” for me and that I ultimately “couldn’t make it.” But the truth is that living in New York is a lot more complicated than just making it there and being happy forever.

When I was in NYC, I had a successful career and a ton of friends I loved. In fact, I had a very happy life and am still in touch with most of my friends from New York… but I was also constantly busy and overwhelmed. And, even scarier, I never realized how much being constantly busy and overwhelmed was damaging to me.

What I didn’t know at the time is that I suffered from anxiety. I also didn’t realize that I was putting a LOT of pressure on myself to always be perfect and successful and how that eventually led to overload. When I started what I thought was my dream job, things quickly spiraled. The pressure that I put on myself to do THE BEST JOB EVER eventually led me to calm my fear of failure anxiety with alcohol.

I’m still figuring out all of the things that let to my alcoholism, but I know without a doubt that feeling overwhelmed at work and being busy all of the time was at the very top of the list.

In fact, I recently talked about how being busy all of the time damaged my mental health and the steps I have taken since to calm the F down.

One of those steps was leaving New York City.

To be honest, leaving NYC was a difficult and easy decision at the same time. For a very long time, New York was the only city that I could picture myself living it. I was a total stereotype in that way, but I felt (and still sometimes feel) that the world revolves around NYC and I was A-OK with that. I loved being there because I loved my career, my friends and the plethora of opportunities that NYC provided.

Working in media was a lot easier because I was in the media capital of the world and I won’t lie and say that sometimes things aren’t difficult because I am no longer at the epicenter of journalism.

But I’m not… and I am so much healthier for it.

I didn’t really realize how busy and overwhelmed I was when I was still in NYC, but when I left, I felt better. Although I still sometimes feel as if I am a failure because I couldn’t “make it”, I know that building a happy life in the city that I loved for almost 12 years was definitely making it. My career wouldn’t be where it is today if I didn’t start in NYC, and I am eternally grateful for all of the years I spent there.

But I am also grateful that I was forced to leave.

Leaving New York made me face up to the way that my lifestyle was affecting my mental health, the way I was constantly allowing myself to be busy and thus not taking care of me.

Once I left, I was able to face up to some serious and much-needed changes. In fact, I was forced to enact some serious changes in my life. Not having a busy lifestyle (because I was back in my hometown with very little to do and very few friends) allowed me to take a breather and recognize what was happening with my mental health.

A year before I left New York, I lost that “dream job” and went to rehab shortly after. Although eventually I came back to NYC, it wasn’t long before I was back to where I started—overworked and overstressed. I did start therapy during the eight months between coming back to New York and leaving again, but I needed more. I needed a change of scenery and it wasn’t until I got it that I realized that’s what I needed.

And so, in April 2016, I left New York and moved back home… It was difficult because I was basically single, unemployed, homeless, broke, fat and drunk but things slowly go better.

I met Adam a week after moving, decided to become a full-time freelance writer and editor (instead of seeing another office job), eventually moved in with Adam, paid off some debt (though I’m still learning how to save money), inadvertently lost weight when I became a PT vegetarian and haven’t had a sip of alcohol since before leaving NYC.

Being outside of New York allowed me to de-stress and be less busy, which ultimately helped me to realize what a toll those things were taking on my mental health.

Although I still see my therapist on occasion (which is definitely not a bad thing!), recognizing when anxiety is striking has been an important part of my recovery and mental health. These days I am able to see it coming from a mile away and, even when I can’t fully prevent my anxiety, I am able to deal with it so much better.

Having the support of a loving partner and a great therapist definitely helps, but living a more stable, peaceful life outside of the “always busy” mentality of NYC has been what really counts.

Want more? Check out all of my writing above and subscribe to my newsletter for news and updates, then follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

The weirdest part of moving out of the city I called home

Please subscribe to my newsletter to get writing news and updates.

One of the weirdest parts of moving out of the city I’ve called home for the past 12 years is actually getting rid of all of the furniture things that I collected over the past several years.

For me, anyway, that was absolutely the weirdest.

To be honest, when I decided to leave New York City this past April, I was filled with fear, with hope, with a renewed sense of life and with a lot of doubts about the choice I was making. And the original choice didn’t exactly work out as I planned, but I ended up exactly where I needed to end up for reasons even beyond my understanding – and I’m certainly very grateful for all of that.

But as I was entering into the transition of “hey, look, I’m MOVING!”, I wasn’t fully prepared for what that actually meant.

You see, I never really planned to move out of New York. I had wanted to live there ever since I could remember and it was the city where I felt most at home. But when opportunity knocked, I decided to take the chance and see what happens.

And then I was faced with the reality of actually doing it.

I’m a bit of a conundrum as a person, I think. Sometimes I feel very sentimental towards the things I own, and other times I am really quick to just want to get rid of it all. That’s why, when it came to much of the furniture that I had owned for the past 8 years or so, I was feeling a whole mix of emotions that I really didn’t expect.

On the one hand, moving over 1,000 miles away didn’t exactly warrant bringing all of that stuff with me. On the other hand, the furniture was still good and sturdy, and had served me well.

But I knew I had to get rid of it. So, on a fateful day in late March, I took as nice of pictures as I could of my bed, my armoire, my dresser, my vanity table, my lingerie chest, my matching bookcases, my desk, my couch, my kitchen island, my dining table and my TV stand.

So many things! So many memories!

The bed frame, armoire and dresser were all purchased in early 2008. It was my first real big girl act as an adult, and I was proud to have an oh-so-pretty matching set. The armoire that held a small TV for many years, the dresser that had once become The Place Where The (now ex) Boyfriend Kept His Things, the bed frame that I always thought looked so pretty… It all had to be sold and sold ASAP.

I knew it was the right thing to do, especially as that particular matching furniture set had also given me plenty of headaches over the years. The pieces were sturdy but heavy AF, and moving with them every year became a pain that I absolutely hated reliving.

The couch and the desk and the bookcases and the kitchen things didn’t pose as much of an emotional attachment, and I know that’s largely in part because they had only recently come into my life.

Still, the bookcases had made me very happy as they perfectly held all of my colorful cookbooks and dreams of becoming a Food Network star one day. The desk held all of my important things and documents and, although I rarely worked sitting directly at it, still held a very important place in my home and in my heart.

And then came the vanity table and lingerie chest. Purchased not too long after my initial furniture buy eight years ago, these were prized pieces that I had come to love more than any person should probably ever love a piece of furniture. But something about these two pieces just made me smile.

Maybe it was the silly girly girl in me or maybe it was… No, wait, that was probably it. The vanity table, which was big and bulky and WAY too much for a New York City apartment, was still something that I wanted year in and year out. Whenever a new apartment move came up, I held on to it.

The way it stood there with two large storage units on either side of me, a big mirror to look into, a cute little bench to sit on – I loved it all. Even as I tried to downsize the amount of makeup and beauty trinkets I had, I always found a way to fill its drawers with plenty of lovely little things.

Getting rid of that was probably one of the hardest things I had to do in terms of my move. Sure, all of the furniture held some value in one way or another, but it was the vanity table that I had loved the most.

Having never considered myself a particularly sentimental person when it came to pieces of furniture, I was shocked by my reaction as Craigslist people came to pick up one piece, then another, and another, until all of it was gone out of my apartment.

It was a sad sight to see all of the things I had gotten so comfortable with over the last decade, and all of the things which had kept me company through six apartments, gone forever. FOREVER.

That word seemed like an awfully long time.

And maybe the truth is that the power of that word in relation to my furniture and my life in NYC is what I feared the most.

If I could get rid of my New York apartment furniture so easily, could New York itself get rid of me just as easily?

Friends assured me that this would never happen. That New York will always be here for me, should I want to come back in a year or two or 10. And I knew they were right – I know that because thousands of people move to the city every year.

I know because I was one of them back on August 28, 2004, when my parents and I drove from Florida to New York to drop me off at NYU. I was a scared little freshman who knew nothing about life in the big city and, let me tell you, had NO idea how to dress or how to act, but I found my footing there eventually. I found my sense of style, I found my career, I found my group of friends, and I just found myself in the city that never sleeps.

There are many reasons why leaving NYC when I did was the right call for me, and many reasons why I might never live there again.

But it’s not because the city didn’t love me or because I didn’t love the city. Even as I look around my current apartment, so lacking in all of the things that used to make up my home, I’m filled with a renewed sense of hope – exactly what I was looking for in making this transition.

Just as my beloved former vanity table helped to brighten up my house every single day, I know that I’ll find a new furniture item to do the same. I’m not yet settled in where I now live in Southwest Florida, but I’m getting there.

As I think about the weirdness of getting rid of things in New York, I also think about the excitement of getting things to build my new home.

It’s not the transition I thought I would make, and it’s definitely not where I thought I would be six months ago. But getting rid of those things, strange as it still kind of feels, was also liberating. Giving up my furniture helped me to let go of my life in New York.

And while sad, I know the truth is that it doesn’t necessarily have to be forever. And if it’s forever, I know that it doesn’t necessarily have to be sad either. It’s just what the next chapter of my life is.

With a vanity table or not, I’m excited to turn the pages.

Want more? Check out all of my writing above and subscribe to my newsletter for news and updates, then follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...