For the past three years, my life have been through so many different changes, mostly for the better. However, when I started my journey, I was so very terrified, lost, and unsure if the risks that I was taking would result in a better or worse outcome for me. I’m not a brave person, but I was simply faced with only two choices: Make a change OR parish in my old city of Philadelphia.
I have been a long time sufferer of depression, social anxiety disorder, PTSD, and a bit of OCD starting from age six. Some of my mental struggles are the direct results of my abusive childhood, a few happened through past physical traumas within my early adulthood, and I have slight OCD which had occurred as a child in response to my often chaotic upbringing.
I often keep everything in order, I have a place for everything and everything is in its place, as a way of overcompensating for the chaos within my childhood until my late twenties. I had no power over the past dire situations that had happened to my loved ones or to myself, within random acts of violence, death, financial loss, and so on. Keeping my toys, clothing, books, and other various items in order was my sort of coping mechanism. Or so, this is the professional opinion of my therapist, which I do agree with.
When some item is out of place or not where I have designated it to be, I do become a lot frustrated, irritable, and in extreme moments I will experience a panic attack or cry about it. It’s a sign of my six year old self, still struggling to make sense and manufacture consistency within my world, in spite of the fact that I am fully grown adult now.
There’s a slight suspicion that I may fall within the “high-functioning” autistic spectrum, but that’s just speculation, as I’m too nervous to seek another trained professional to find out. My current therapist is not trained in autism, but she did suggest that I check that out with another therapist. The problem is, it took a lot of guts for me to visit the clinic to meet with her, in the first place. I don’t have to be officially diagnosed with something else, on top of my many other officially diagnosed mental issues, so I’ll leave that one for much later.
Don’t worry, I do have a very important reason why I’m sharing a bit of my personal information on this very public blog… I’m making a point that change for a person like me is none too easy and can feel almost impossible at times! However… I’ve done the impossible, many times and in many ways. So, I want to share that story, in celebration of my eight years officially on WordPress! ^_^
To clarify, it’s not that Philadelphia is the worse place on the planet, as I’m betting that people who live in or around war-zones in other countries have it much worse. My old city was a home to a lot of celebrities (operative word is “was”, ahem.), it had a lot of nice sights, conventions, and caters to the creative crowd (art, dance, music, photography, writing, directing, etc.). However, it’s a city that suffers with a high crime rate/murders, poverty, drug and alcohol abuse.
For example, when my nephew was murdered in 2012, I had to wade through over twenty murder reports which had occurred that night, in order to find out what had happened to him… And all of those reports were of incidents that had happened in the same block radius on that specific night; men, women, and children! Many people had died that night, not just my nephew, sadly. I believe that it’s the lack of jobs, a massive influx of drug abuse and dealing, gangs, lack of education and resources that causes this deadly issue in Philadelphia.
Minnesota have jobs, opportunities, no gangs, and is a state that’s very big on education. In Philly, you couldn’t throw a shoe without hitting either a bar or church. In Minnesota, you’ll hit an university or job center with that same shoe toss. It seems to have made all of the difference here, as the crime rate and murders are WAY below anything I’ve ever experienced in my old city. I feel completely safe in my current small town, which is a feeling that I had never experienced before in my life.
However… moving to Minnesota was not so easy for me, as a person that had left her home only once every couple of months. I never been on an airplane before, nor experienced walking the huge terminals of an airport. I didn’t even own a suitcase, as I had never traveled too far from my city, only to New Jersey or Delaware to visit relatives. New York was just an hour away from where I had once lived, and I had always daydreamed about visiting it but never did, as I was too afraid to travel that far.
So… Minnesota is located 1,323.6 miles from Philadelphia. To put that in perspective, that’s an over twenty hour car ride! Luckily, I traveled by planes (one layover in Georgia), but it took a better part of the day for me to get here. I left Philly in the morning and I landed in Minnesota by early evening. I had experienced so many firsts, that day: First time traveling far away from home, first time flying, my first night in a strange new town, my first night in a strange new house, my first time sleeping on an air mattress (until I could buy a new bed), and my first time meeting new people (my roommate and her friends).
The flights were awesome and I enjoyed it… A LOT. However, the other bits were terrifying for me. I cried and had panic attacks every other day. It was so very new and my world had changed dramatically, everything was not in its place and I hadn’t yet figure out a place for everything. I honestly wanted to return back to the hell that I had escaped from, only because it was familiar and I felt that it wouldn’t be as scary/hard.
I would have “nightmares” that I was trying to get back home in Philadelphia, but couldn’t find it, no matter how hard I searched for the old house. This would put me in such a depressive state when I woke up the next morning, only to find that I was in some stranger’s home and sleeping on a crappy air mattress. The depression and anxiety became so very bad and lingered for my first months in Minnesota. That’s when I decided to see a therapist.
After three months of therapy, I began to settle in and find a place for everything. I got rid of the air mattress and purchased a nice memory-foam one. I slowly began to feel like I could belong in this small town in Minnesota. And I met a very cool hairstylist, which I visit her once a month! When I had learned that my new town have so many educational opportunities within it, very prestigious universities, I made a new goal of becoming better within my anxiety so that I may attend one of them someday.
My “nightmare” has changed, sometimes I dream that I’m back in that old house in Philadelphia, but I do not wish to stay. When I try to leave, in order to fly back to my real home in Minnesota, the windows and doors of the old house grow bars, imprisoning me forever. In the nightmare, I cry out, “I want to go home! I want to go back to Minnesota!” Thankfully, I don’t suffer that dream often, but when it happens I wake up in a great relief that I’m not trapped in Philadelphia anymore… that it was all just a bad dream.
Change is scary and it’s difficult. However, I believe that in order for me to find true happiness in life, change is inevitable. Or it should be.
Thanks for reading my very long post! And here a good song and video that I think is a perfect visualization of how people may be dancing on the outside, but battling with inner demons on the inside: San Holo – They Just Haven’t Seen It.
Have a good week, everyone! And be excellent to each other! ^_^