Living with change

Nicholas Leverton Access Worker

What you are about to read is a blog retelling, and reflecting on, my experiences of change. We all go through life-altering changes as we age, move house, go to school, realise you hate going to school, get a job, fall in love, fall out of love. These can be some of the most exciting parts of our lives but also some of the most taxing on our mental health. These are times of possibility but also of uncertainty. Times where we find new things we love while having to let go of what’s familiar, what we have loved before.

I hope in reading this blog you find something that you identify with. I hope that you can find some detail in my life, big or small, that rings true in yours. I hope that through this blog we can all realise that change is part of what makes us human. Change is difficult but change is also a chance to grow, and learn, and be better for it – even if it takes a while. We all have experiences that have affected our mental health, let me share mine with you.

About a month ago, I moved 434 miles from a place I called home to Hertfordshire. This is probably the biggest physical change in my life so far and one that I was completely unprepared for. Growing up, my family had never moved house and I was very lucky to have my older sister living nearby to where I went to university. Being familiar with my surroundings was never something I really thought about and I think I took them for granted as a result.

Big questions like ‘what am I even doing here?’ aside, moving to a new place really highlighted the importance of the small stuff. Knowing where the nearest post-box is, which roads are best avoided and which corner-shop has the best deal on loo roll feel like such minor details when you don’t have to give them a second thought, but when you’re 434 miles from home they become more pieces to the puzzle of ‘how do I get by?’

In this kind of environment you can never really relax, I found myself having to sweat the small stuff or I would be late for work, miss out on dinner and find myself dealing with a parking ticket. All these little worries naturally built up, it wasn’t until I looked back now that I realised I was anxious about pretty much everything.

When I’m anxious I always find that the first thing to be affected is my sleep. It is hard to escape your thoughts, particularly at night when you don’t have anything else to occupy your mind. Long nights where you stare at the ceiling and all you see is darkness can be really difficult to deal with. It’s very tempting to find comfort in your phone or the tv but I always feel guilty about this because I know it won’t actually help me sleep, it’s just a break from nothing and a way to get out of my own head.

Losing sleep like this was unsustainable and it began to have a real impact on how I felt at work and my motivation to get out of the house. I’d like to say I found a miracle cure but other than the odd bath and maybe some exercise before bed I found that the only thing that helped was getting control of my life and all those little things that were bugging me. In time, I grew more comfortable with life in Hertfordshire. I didn’t feel lost every time I drove beyond the end of my road and I found the half price loo roll! Things have settled down now, and I feel like I can begin to live the life I want to again.

I think it is expected that we feel worried about big life changes but I always thought my worries would come from starting a new job and finding my feet in the world after university. Now I’m aware that worrying about the things that allow me to live life – food, shopping, sleep, paperwork – can have a much more crippling effect on my mood. It is important to get these things sorted but armed with the knowledge that things turned out alright in the end this time, I will try my best not to worry so much in the future.

We all need an anchor to help us feel grounded, when you move from home you pull that anchor up and it takes some time before you can set it down again. Having experienced this kind of change for the first time, I will try to build a platform to enjoy life much faster next time.

Posted on: 9th October 2019