Moving house when you have mental health issues and 8 things that I think would help

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This is a post that I never really envisioned writing. However, it’s one that now seems very important to share during this week and I am going to be very honest as its okay, to not be okay!

I have the best job being a brother, son and uncle. I am very family orientated and as I am sure I speak for everyone, I would do anything for my family. My twin brother and I were really close when we were younger and to a point, still are now. We went on nights out together, played sports together and as you can guess as twins wore the same clothes. I remember us both being in the same classes at school. It was hilarious. We look fairly similar and it’s like we had our own language. We argued with each other all the time. The teacher would laugh because we could only be brothers being brothers.

We as a family are very inclusive and small which made a lot of my life choices so much more difficult. The move to University and then moving for the job have been the hardest I have ever had to make and doing that with pre-existing mental wellbeing issues has made it feel at times impossible.

As a short background, I have struggled with anxiety (general, OCD and social) and depression on and off through out the last 8 years and still do to the current day, stemming from bullying, being unhappy with my body, relationship troubles and money (still waiting for that magical money tree to grow). It has been reported recently a man takes his life almost every 2 hours in the UK and to be honest with you, on a couple of occasions I have come very close to being a member of that statistic but here I am. Having been through what I class as the worst, please remember that If you find yourself overwhelmed with unpleasant thoughts you need to know two things. First, you're not alone; and second, there are things you can do to feel better. I transformed from a confident, cheeky chap to someone who avoided all conversations, stayed in doors and struggled to do some of the simplest of tasks. I distanced myself from those who meant the most to me and lost several friends along the way.

The first step is to recognise you are having these thoughts and DO NOT try to ignore them or push them away as that will just cause them to fester. The next step is to talk to someone, like a friend, coworker, family member, and then call your doctor as they can help you get the appropriate treatment. Medication is not a bad thing. Having been on anti-depressants and medication for my anxiety, it can be a good short term solution.

Anyway, getting back on topic, I moved to Cardiff in the summer of 2017 from my family home in Oxfordshire, a round trip of around 220 miles and about 4 and half hours in total in the car. It is funny how moving 110 miles can make you feel a million miles away not only physically but mentally. Now, I’m a very organised person. I get things done. I do things quickly and efficiently. I do it my way and might be a pain but I feel i get it done well. I am actually a bit weird I guess as I love arranging, re-arranging and organising- yeah weird I know!

Even though I had moved to University a year previous, this move was very different in a number of ways.

1) I had A LOT of stuff!! 2) I was struggling with my mental health.

If I’m honest I hated the whole process this time around. Spending hours and hours packing away memories and watching your parent cling on to every single one. It’s been blimmin hard! I actually ran myself down to be honest and became pretty poorly.

Of course I’m grateful for being able to move house though and perform a job that I have dreamt of doing since I was 13. Gosh I’m over the moon and back. I am incredibly blessed to have such a supportive family but this is a classic example of how mental illness does not discriminate. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have, you could be a billionaire and still suffer the crippling lows of depression!

This is why I’m writing this post. Moving to somewhere completely new, where I knew nobody and craved the attention of my family lead to severe home sickness. At points I could go entire weekends without speaking to anybody face to face and that was really difficult. It changes you as a person and every face to face conversation I hung on to as if it was to be my last (probably why I enjoy the sound of my own voice so much now)

But support was only ever just around the corner. I have since the day I started had the support from Grant Thornton, whether it is either through catch ups with my people manager, buddy or the numerous sources of help I am provided access. Grant Thornton believe strongly in a dress for diary and agile working policy, giving us the trust and ease to make up hours and get work done. Grant Thornton also internally optimise so many resources. In the Cardiff office we have a mental health first aider who I can approach in confidence at any point, a wellbeing room which allows me to grab 5 minutes when I am struggling and stresses of exams, work or just being an adult get a bit overwhelming and 5 wellbeing champions who are available for chats and support throughout the day.

The recovery from anxiety and depression may never be complete but with time it will get better and being surrounded daily by those I can trust to support me makes the world of difference. I am so glad that I have taken this journey and would never

suggest someone doesn’t take the opportunity when it arises to relocate for a job so here are 8 things that I would put in place to help your mental health whilst relocating.

1) Start well in advance if you can. I kind of thought I’d done this but really I didn’t do enough. If you can though start packing bits up and storing then away early, it makes a huge difference. Maybe start packing clothes that you know you’re not going to wear (summer ones if it’s winter etc) away first and ensure memories are stored safely so they can be unpacked the other side.

2) Start telling companies you’re moving sooner. I have been downright awful at doing this, this time around. I completely forgot about sorting the T.V and broadband so I went without internet for over a week (no Game of Thrones for me). Might not seem like much but when it’s how you contact those you miss the most, it’s a big issue!

3) Ask for help. *Awkward shuffling and fluttering of eye lids* I am literally the world’s worst at this. I try, I really do but I’m just rubbish at asking. But i really wish I could have as a few hours here and there, it would have been a massive help and really eased the pressure.

4) Keep on reminding yourself that it hasn’t all got to be done straight away! And it won’t be. But that’s ok. You’re not failing. You’re not rubbish. It’s just what happens when you move house. It takes time. Ikea may promote everything to be really easy to build, just imagine me vs a 3 door wardrobe.

5) Plan time in your calendar. Having that time in the diary gives you such a boost and gives you a point to focus on. Its amazing how a little excitement can boost your mood.

6) Keep up what you enjoy. I sing like a cat, play a guitar like a fish and drum like a horse but music is so important to me. It carries such precious memories and allows me to visit such happy memories. Don’t let anything get in the way of what you enjoy most.

7) If you take medication keep it in an easily accessible place. Honestly this was a huge one for me. The last thing you need after a long day is desperately digging through boxes and bags in search of that medicine that is the only thing that helps your anxiety or gets you to sleep!

8) Put money aside in advance for takeaways etc. Even if you are the most organised person on the planet like I proclaim to be, I seriously doubt you are going to be cooking your home cooked food from scratch for the first few nights – 4 nights in my case – so don’t beat yourself about it and before the big day arrives put some cash aside in preparation. The last thing you need is to have something else to get stressed/upset or down about. Oh and please don’t do as I did and beat yourself up and feel guilty about not cooking proper dinners because gym is life. It’s only a few days or weeks.

Moving house is a tough thing to do. Regardless of whether you struggle with mental health issues or not. Remember that.

Also remind yourself that yes it will be tough physically and mentally. Yes its going to be very tiring. Yes it’s a huge change. Yes it’s all very different but likely you are doing it to better yourself like I did. You will get through it.

Good luck to you if you are about to embark on a house move. Technology allows us to be so close to our loved ones at every hour of the day, don’t make the mistake I made by losing hours missing the things you enjoy forgetting this.

My last words of advice would be to follow a moto. Mine is “Despite chaos, normality resumes” Life can be hard, whether it is a house move, stress from work or exams. But just keep your head above the water and treat every day as a normal day. For me it has a gym start, work in the middle and a relaxing end and even if this doesn’t go to plan, don’t beat yourself up. It happens all again with a good nights sleep

And to all those men out there. I feel at my strongest when I am able to share my experiences, knowing where my emotions are and being able to express them. Warranted this wont be for everybody but feeling and wanting to act suicidal was the hardest time of my life. I felt hopeless as men are supposed to me masculine and strong and I was failing. That is totally wrong. Everyone struggles and everyone has hard times. Never struggle on your own and never think you are alone. Life is too short, don’t miss a single moment of happiness as everyday can be filled with it.

Posted by George Hirons   |    16 May 2019 at 2:52 PM

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