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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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