Yesterday marked exactly a year since I moved to London.
I didn’t think it would ever be a move I would make, but it has led to one of the busiest years of my life and probably the one in which I have changed and learned the most.
The move was about breaking out of my comfort zone, and throwing off the comfort blankets I’d surrounded myself with.
Without challenging myself, I was never going to overcome a lot of the fears I had built up and learned to live with.
The timings suddenly clicked. I was really unhappy in my job, living alone with the flexibility to move, and there was nothing tying me to stay in the same place.
When the job hunt began, I was offered a role at a company I’ve admired for years, which sealed the deal and to London I came.
It’s been a year of extreme highs and some very real lows, and one year on I can say it’s been one of the biggest learning experiences I’ve had.
I’m in a new city, facing ‘fears’ like the tube, living with strangers, and adjusting to a new workplace.
I’m living in a city I always thought was far too big, too busy, too fast for me.
I’ve been able to indulge more than ever in my love of theatre, seeing on average a show a month but often more.
I’ve been exploring parts of the country I’ve never been to before, not only in London but in Kent, Hertfordshire, Brighton, Canterbury…
Most people close to me (and those who have read recent posts) will know that it’s not as simple as having moved to London and everything improving as I face my fears.
Two months ago almost to the day, I completely crashed with my anxiety after a period of having done really well.
I think it was my body’s way of saying ‘Hold on. You’ve got too good at getting a bit better then pretending you’re ok. You’re not.’
I’d got really good at wearing a mask.
Yes, I’d progressed so far with my panicking and worrying, but with a lot of my issues and fears I’d just taught myself coping mechanisms and learned to hide them rather than actually addressing them.
I had to take some time off, and then slowly return to ‘normal’ life. Depression was added to the anxiety diagnosis, and I began to slowly rebuild my confidence.
It’s been hard.
Really, really hard.
I’ve had to lean so heavily on the people around me and I can’t thank them enough for the way I’ve been looked after and treated with patience and love.
I’ve been focusing on really looking after myself and actively making changes to completely overhaul the way I think of myself and the world around me.
On Monday, my counselling finally starts and should supplement the huge steps I’ve been making on my own over the past two months.
I need this person to challenge me. I need to make my brain realise just putting on a mask and ‘coping’ is not enough. I want to free myself of these thoughts that have tied my down for so long.
I want to go out for a meal and truly enjoy choosing something from the menu; I’ve not eaten properly for three years.
I want to plan a busy week without knowing I will be completely and utterly drained by the end of it.
I want to sleep better; I can’t remember the last time I had a night of unbroken sleep – over the past couple of months I’ve averaged 3 to 6 hours a night.
I want to fully enjoy everything I do without constantly checking I know the exit route, or wondering whether something is about to happen.
Most of all, I want to allow myself to just be me. To be happy. To be healthy.
This year I’ve had some of the best days ever, and some of the worst.
My feeling today, at the end of this first year, is that things ahead look good.
They look really good.
The process I’m going through right now is hard, but I’m on the path to facing and overhauling thinking that has been troubling me for three years or more.
I’ve got amazing trips away and events and plans coming up.
My second year in London will continue to see growth, and will be a year in which I learn more and more about myself.