Moving Out and Mental Health

Friday 26 January 2018

If you follow me on Twitter, you might be aware that last month I found a studio flat in the city and moved in. 

The reasoning behind the move was that I'd be closer to uni - a twenty minute walk as opposed to a twenty-five minute train journey that actually required me leaving the house two hours before lectures started in order to be there on time - and any nine o'clock classes or late finishes would be easier on me. This is still the case - waking up at eight and dawdling down the high street to reach uni at ten to nine beats having to be up at seven to catch a train that gets me in forty minutes early - but it's not easy.

Picking out all the things I needed to kit out a flat and choosing my colour scheme and bed sheets was fun. Going round Asda Living and popping bits and bobs in the trolley was the start of an exciting chapter in my life, and the anticipation of getting the keys so that I could make the place mine was eating away at me. But that's just where the problem lies.

It's not mine. And I'm not sure it ever will be. 

Of course, this is true in a legal and financial sense, as it's a rented property, but it extends much further than that, too. And I didn't anticipate that. I knew I'd be in for a few rough nights, as I've never spent a prolonged period of time away from home by myself. I've been by myself plenty of times - but always at home, always with my pets, and always with the reassurance that my nan literally lives just round the corner. Feeling a little homesick is perfectly normal, right?

But when that feeling is combined with anxiety that is - more so off medication than on - severe it's a disaster waiting to happen.

Not only did I find myself missing the company of the cats and resenting the added responsibilities of housework that has to be done by me, as there's no one else around to pick up my slack, there was the unshakeable feeling of not belonging. Of feeling like a guest in what is supposed to be my own space. Not wanting to have the TV on too loud in fear of disturbing other residents, keeping the blind drawn and blocking out any natural light in an attempt to alleviate the paranoia of being watched by the people in the terrace opposite. A mind-numbing feeling of having to do everything alone, of not being allowed to phone home in case it comes across as failure. The pre-existing feelings of loneliness and isolation magnified a thousandfold.

At twenty-one I should be comfortable away from home, looking for post-grad work or study perhaps in another area, wanting to break away from living under my mother's roof and find a place of my own. Maybe with a friend or two or a partner. Maybe independently.

But I'm not.

Instead, at twenty-one, I'm in my first year of undergrad study, barely able to keep up with the workload - let alone a part time job - and struggling to make friends and find a place in the world where I'm content with life, not worrying over every last little thing. At twenty-one I feel more like a child than an adult. And it kills me to know that I'm so behind other people my age. That there's yet another thing I'm unable to do. That my dream of emigrating to Australia may never happen. That I'm still so dependent, even when I'm independent.

I know I'll get there one day. I just wish I could do so faster.

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