About a year and a half ago I decided to start a YouTube channel to talk about my mental health struggles, because I feel like there is still a lot of stigma around mental health and I thought the more people talk about it the better. I posted one video that was sort of a stream of conciousness and have posted nothing since. Similarly this blog which I started quite a bit longer ago had the same aim. Right now I’m feeling like it’s time to stop being hesitant and silent and to really start to share my thoughts and struggles publicly. Will this resolve last beyond today? Time will tell.
In September, after 4 and a half years of living in a house that was probably quite bad for me but had given me some stability, I moved. I moved in to a house that was much quieter, homely, and had a garden. At first I was very happy there, but this wasn’t to last. I was sharing with one other tenant who had been there for a few years. At first she seemed lovely and we seemed to get on well and have quite a bit in common. However it soon became clear that she was quite confrontational, a trait that became increasingly aggressive.
As someone who struggles with anxiety this was a bad situation for me to find myself in. Things steadily got worse to the point where the first week of January I felt distressed just being in the house, and was regularly driving to the nearest motorway services and sitting in the car park, just to be out of the house and have somewhere quiet to sit and try to feel better. On the Wed I tried to talk to my housemate about the fact that things had got strained between us, but that didn’t go well, with her putting all the blame on me. So by the Friday I decided that being in a constant state of distress and sitting in car parks wasn’t sustainable, and that I needed to remove myself from the situation.
So I found a bedsit on AirBnB and checked in for a few nights. That was only supposed to be a short term solution to get away and try and figure out what to do, but since the middle of a pandemic is a bad time to be trying to find friends to put you up (although I have several friends who normally would) I decided to stay in the bedsit and have been here since. At first I was panicking about the cost, because I struggle to afford paying my rent, let alone paying to live somewhere else at the same time, but given the level of distress I’d been feeling it seemed worth it in the long term. Luckily I was able to increase my Covid business loan by enough to cover the cost of the bedsit.
My housemate has to leave the country soon, so she is moving out at the end of this month, which means that I only have a week left until I can go home. I’m really looking forward to it. I’ll have been in the bedsit for nearly two months by the time I go home, and although it’s clean, quiet and comfortable I’m still displaced from my home. I have gradually been feeling better over the time that I’ve been here, but I think there’s a limit to how much better I can feel in this situation. I think it’s one of those things where I won’t know how much being here is affecting me negatively until it’s over. I’m feeling anticipation for the sense of relief I’m going to feel when I go home. Also because of a delay to my new housemate moving in I’m going to have the house to myself for a whole month, which after everything that’s happened is going to feel glorious. I really feel like my life can now start again.
One of the things that has really helped me through this time of crisis is the brilliant Changes Bristol peer support groups. I’ve been attending Changes groups for a few years now and became a volunteer facilitator last Oct. The groups had been all online for most of the time since Covid but they recently re-introduced a small number of in-person groups. So as well as my usual Monday night group (on Zoom) I’ve attended an in-person group every week since the start of the year, and it’s really nice to just be in a room with a group of other humans, especially when they are all understanding and supportive. I really don’t think I can overstate how valuable it is to me and others that this exists. If you live in the Bristol area (or even if you don’t) and you feel like you need support, I would highly recommend attending one of their groups.