Ever since high school, I'd dreamed of moving to Los Angeles. I was tired of the harsh New York winters and hell-bent on living the Hollywood dream that I saw on television and in movies. More importantly, I had emotional issues that I believed could be eradicated by a change of location.
I'd been drinking excessively because I was depressed and having trouble managing my emotions. This led to violent outbursts. I was hanging out with enablers who were also making poor life choices---dating abusive men---and I couldn't keep any job for longer than a month. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I had over 20 full-time and part-time jobs by the time I was 25.
After a breakdown that landed me in the hospital, I started seeing a therapist and I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). I was put on medication, and though the diagnosis gave me clarity and hope, the excitement wore off once I realized awareness of the issue wouldn't immediately cure me. I started gaining weight from the medication and missing therapy appointments. Eventually, I stopped going altogether, ditched the medication, and quit another job yet again.
Photo by Giphy
Nearing my 27th birthday, with less than $1,000 in my bank account, no job, no medication, and no housing secured, I bought a one-way ticket to a place I had never visited. I booked an Airbnb I found in North Hollywood that was close to public transportation. I applied to every single employment agency I could find a week before my flight. I got calls within a few days requesting to set up interviews with recruiters.
A change of scenery can't solve all of your problems but it will test your resilience, push you to become more self-reliant, and build confidence.
When I arrived in Los Angeles, I spent two days just taking in the city like a true tourist. I had scheduled interviews from the third day on, and I received a temp assignment from the second agency I met with. My month at my Airbnb was coming to an end, but I realized I wouldn't be able to afford it long-term on my temp salary. Los Angeles rent isn't cheap, but I wasn't about to move in with a stranger because I had heard too many roommate horror stories.
I did some digging online and found a boutique hotel with affordable rates that accepted long-term tenants. For $750, I had a tiny bedroom, bathroom, and a shared kitchen but I didn't care. I was making friends at work and enjoying my new life. After six months, the company offered me a full-time position, and I had broken the one-month curse I had experienced at other jobs. Things seemed like they couldn't get any better. They didn't.
Photo by Giphy
Things took a turn for the worse when old habits started to resurface. The excitement wore off and I started to get homesick. I also couldn't help comparing my life to others who seemed to be younger and further ahead in their careers. I started to self-medicate with liquor again. One night, while out with a friend, I misinterpreted a comment they made while drunk and lashed out in a public place. I immediately felt embarrassed and went home. I couldn't stop crying and the incident prompted me to think about every single mistake, bad relationship, drunken outburst, and career-sabotaging decision that I ever made. I felt hopeless and decided to self-harm.
When I woke up sober I was so disappointed in my actions from the night before, but I realized that I was completely alone. I would have to get myself together because I had bills and I couldn't pay them without a job. I had overcome so many obstacles to make it to and stay in LA at this point, and I wasn't going to let a relapse ruin everything. I knew I needed to make a change for good or else things would only get worse.
I used my sick days and insurance from my job to take the time to go to an in-patient psych facility for seven days and took advantage of all the services they offered. After my stay ended, I researched psychiatrists and found one that was the best fit for me. I was completely open and honest about my history and diagnosis when I started treatment.
Photo by GIphy
I made a concrete plan that included finding an apartment, pursuing a career that I genuinely enjoyed, and making my mental health a priority. I explored neighborhoods I wanted to live in and searched online until I found a beautiful apartment in my budget.
After I moved in, I saved up enough money to pursue full-time freelance writing while I mapped out my career goals. Thanks to consistent therapy, things have improved immensely and although life isn't perfect, I'm healthier and happier.
I wouldn't immediately advise anyone with unresolved emotional issues to pack up and move to find happiness, but even after all the madness, I know it was the right decision for me. My move helped me realize that no matter where I reside, the strength to overcome any obstacle and the skills necessary to create the life I deserve lie within me.
xoNecole is always looking for new voices and empowering stories to add to our platform. If you have an interesting story or personal essay that you'd love to share, we'd love to hear from you. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Did you know that xoNecole has a podcast? Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify to join us for weekly convos over cocktails (without the early morning hangover.)
Featured Photo by Shutterstock