No one talks about how moving out affects your mental health. For as long as I can remember moving out to a different city was painted as a liberating experience. Your own belongings, your own rules, you set the status quo. Everyone talks about how it can be stressful because it is not easy — finding a place, bills, food, having to call the landlord if something is wrong.
But no one ever really mentions how much of a toll it takes to your mental health. Especially if the move is to a new city. You don’t notice it at first — your mental health declining as you try to take hold of the situation. Such a massive move can take its toll, and can be really overwhelming.
New place. New surrounding. New people. New rules.
No friends or family.
No one to ask, “are you okay?”
It’s brutal. Especially if you create this facade to your friends and family that everything is peachy — when it is not.
However, it is beatable, and I wish I were told these things before I moved out.
If you are going to a different city, your priority (after finding a place to live) is finding a constant activity. This activity should be something you have to get up and do physically — that isn’t work or school. If you fall into the rhythm of the home, school, work, home routine, you’ll quickly find your mental state deteriorating, especially if you are shy. I thankfully have two weekly activities that are outside of school and work. That socialising kept the spiralling at bay and have kept me floating gently above water.
Find a friend — even if it is just one. After moving to Sydney, I was able to find one friend pretty quickly and that single friend helped the treacherous voices in my head at bay. That only friend gave me the motivation to leave my apartment and explore. She removed the loneliness that was weighing my shoulders — the rhythm of my weeks changed, and the constant repetition became a melody.
Let the tears flow, because believe it or not crying helps. Crying is an emotional release that can open the suffocating feeling in your chest. You don’t have to understand why you feel like crying, your body is pleading for emotional discharge, and if you prevent it from liberating it will become much worse later on. Learn from me; I kept the tears at bay until the well that held my emotions burst and I suffered the worst anxiety induced panic attack in a long time.
Those friends you left behind? Talk to them. Get rid of that mentality of “if they want to talk to me, they’ll contact me first.” Pick up that phone and text that GIF or meme to your friends. Show them you miss them and you will discover that the feeling is mutual. It will help you realise that you have people who care about your well being.
Finally, you should talk to someone about how you’re feeling. It could be your friends and family from your old hometown, your new friend, a random classmate, a professional or maybe even a stranger. Being heard lightens the load on your shoulders and it can be quite liberating.
It’s a big step to move away from home, and the feeling of solitude is part of the equation of moving away. But like any equation, it can be solved.