Happy Birthday London...

3.27.2012

image via my instagram

A couple of weeks ago, March 11th to be exact, marked my one year anniversary since I packed up my life, said goodbye to the States, and moved to London with hubs. I have been struggling with how to write this post, and there have been many versions of it, but I felt this was the most honest one. Although I do not regret my decision in moving in the least bit, it has been a trying journey for me. That one year mark has stirred up a lot of complicated emotions within me and Ive realized I'm still not really sure how I feel about London. The combination of our first year of marriage and (for me) relocating to another country with no job or family/friend support has been tough! The past year has been filled with as many highs as there have been lows, and I have strived my hardest to always focus on the positive, though it has not been any easy task. A year later, I have discovered in me things I never knew... some good and some I don't like too much but am working on fixing. Hubs has been more amazing than I could have ever asked for and has tried his hardest to make this transition for me as seamless as possible... but the truth is, at times I have never felt more lost. I try to keep things as light as possible here on the blog, not to fool anyone, but to keep myself in a happy state of mind and from dwelling on the negative. At my lowest points, reading comments from strangers on how positive and inspirational my blog/life seems has really helped lift my spirits back up. So thank you for taking the time to comment, it has meant more than you can imagine.

I guess part of me naively expected this all to be a walk in the park. As someone who has always been an ambitious individual, there have been times throughout this past year where I have just wanted to give up... overwhelmed with sadness, all I could think of doing was hiding in bed. For the longest time, I couldn't even pin point what exactly was going on or why I felt so far removed from my former self. I remember feeling awkward even around good friends and having conversation be such an effort. All I knew was that I felt unexplainably sad, would cry for no reason, and felt defeated by the job situation so I just assumed this was who I was now. When I wasn't sad, I would be filled with anger towards myself for wallowing in self pity when I knew others had it far worse than me. The internal struggle between my old self, the one that knew only I could change things, and my new self that wanted to curl up in a ball and cry at the thought of doing anything, drove me insane. But probably the hardest was when I felt nothing at all, just empty. These severe mood swings left me feeling crazy and exhausted. The fact that at some points I could barely talk about what was happening with hubs without bursting into tears didn't help either. I figured he would soon tire of this and leave me since I no longer was the happy and independent girl he had married. I felt like a sad whimpering shell of my old secure and confident self. But hubs remained patient and reassured me that we would get through this. After painfully (on my end) and extensively talking about everything, we realized that I was experiencing waves of depression and anxiety attacks. Everything could be traced back to when I moved and then it became so obvious that the weight of the stress was behind it all. I remember feeling so relieved when I was finally able to put a label on it, like I was reassured I wasn't going crazy and there was still some hope.

The odd thing about this all is that no one ever suspected. I did my best to keep up happy appearances or just stayed in when I wasn't feeling strong enough to face people. And I wasn't depressed all the time so there were moments when I could genuinely feel and act happy. Not wanting to worry my parents, I didn't even mention much of it to them either. Even now I'm not sure if I should be sharing so much... but I know I am strong enough now to write about it and so I share in hopes that others that relate might not feel as alone as I did. While I'm not magically all better, it has been a long process of which I am recently seeing progress in. Being able to recognize what was going on really helped me. It is ok to acknowledge when I am feeling sad and it helps knowing that it will pass. That if I feel like I need to cry, then it is ok to let myself. Giving myself time to let my emotions run their course has allowed me to understand that it isn't worth getting frustrated with myself over something I can't control anyways. Finding things to loose myself in that don't require much from me when I am feeling down like running and drawing have become outlets for me. Engaging in things like taking pictures of the beauty that surrounds us, stating something I am thankful for each day, and congratulating myself when I accomplish even the tiniest of goals has helped too. With each passing day, I am getting stronger and closer to feeling like my old self again. And if this has taught me anything, it is to treat everyone with the same kindness you would want for yourself because you never know what someone else may be dealing with beneath the surface.

8 Great Things About London:

-There is a plethora of outdoor markets... for just about anything you can think of!!! You can easily spend the weekends just walking around from market to market eying up the goodies of your choosing. The Columbia Road Flower Market followed by coffee and scones is our now our Sunday date routine!!!

-The drinking culture here!!! It is so socially acceptable and in most cases almost standard that a pint is involved in whatever the plans may be... and I thought we drank a lot in NYC, but here there really is no inappropriate time to drink...

-Walking around the city and being exposed to a constant stream of the best graffiti art I have ever seen! Bold and in your face in some areas... hidden in alley ways and little nooks in others... it is everywhere and I love the thrill of discovering new artists... can't get enough of it!!!

-Discovering Run Dem Crew and taking the leap in joining... all by myself... and claiming it as the first thing I did on my own to make London feel more like home! Through them I have I had the pleasure of meeting so many lovely people and seen much more of the city through our runs... thanks Charlie!!!

-Free. Birth. Control... need I say more really? No but on a serious note, the NHS health care in general (once it was all set up) has been truly amazing! And did you all know that maternity leave over here is up to a year, six months paid?!? Hmmm so babies... ;)

-That the buildings and architecture all have so much character and you can easily see a vast variety... from truly old (like before America even existed!) to modern sky scrapers right next to each other... and getting lost on walks, turning a corner and discovering something reminiscent an old movie set... only in London!

-While the Brits might not be known for their cuisine, can I just say thank you for the following: all kinds of meat pies, scones, crumpets, fish and chips, English roasts, full English breakfasts, ales, lagers, cider, and curry (though technically not originally British, has been voted England's most popular dish)...

-The sense of fashion is comparable to that of NYC!!! The wide range of street style has made people watching that much more fun! People never dress dull and you are always exposed to inspiration, whatever your personal style... every day is a fashion show!!! And did I mention the same goes for children's fashion?!? Now just HAVE to get a job in the industry...

8 Annoying Things About London:

-How difficult it was to set up anything here... so I need a home address and a bill in my name to open up a back account... but have no credit history and no bank account so I can't be on the lease or bills... and it means nothing that my husband is a born UK citizen... it was such an endless circle I cant even remember how I managed to get it all sorted!

-Waiting around for hours on end... days on end even for the internet, electric, and water people to come and set up things... only to have no one show up or know what I'm talking about when I call to complain... The lack of inefficiency and indifference by some companies (I'm looking at you Virgin!) was seriously infuriating!!!

-The complete lack of awareness when it comes to personal space and what seems like total obliviousness when roaming the sidewalks... I'm talking if you see me coming, and yes I know I'm little, it's not ok to walk into me!

-Being mistaken repeatedly for Indian... by both Indian and non Indian alike... and not being understood when I explain my origins are Hispanic, as in I speak Spanish and my parents are from Cuba and Peru... not that I was all in your face about my roots to begin with but to say I feel like Ive lost my complete identity is an understatement!

-How it seems that Everyone. Here. Smokes... You can't turn a corner without taking in a lung full of second hand smoke! And because smoking has been banned from indoors, now the Brits stand outside the pub to smoke... making it almost impossible to run through the city any time during lunch hours and after 6pm...

-The lack of modern day conveniences in my flat like a radiator or a tumble dryer... both not seemingly to be that big of a deal until winter hits... when a portable heater just wont cut it and your clothes take up to three days to dry stiff... complete with a lovely damp smell and all. 

-Being asked for I.D. when the legal drinking age is 18... and I know that they are supposed to ask if I look younger than 25... and while this may seem flattering, its is highly annoying when said I.D. is left at home and I am closer to 27 with each passing day...

-The way there are an excessive amount of extra letters in some words and they just aren't pronounced at all... which you would know if you grew up here, but as a foreigner, I'm made fun of for pronouncing things the way they are spelled. The word thames has a TH guys... I'm just saying... and let's not even talk about worcestershire...

image via my instagram

***Today I am thankful for hubs... with his unconditional love and patience, I know we will be able to get through anything life hands us in the future***

2 COMMENTS:

  1. Just stumbled across your blog. I'm very inspired by your honesty, in a world where everyone tries to paint a veneer over things and make out that their lives are fabulous and they are doing so well, it is refreshing to see someone admit that they are... well, human!

    I've also had my own experience with depression, so bad I was terrified to even leave my bedroom and face my housemates- I spent months hiding away in my bedroom and lost so much weight because I was too scared to even go downstairs, let alone to the shops to buy food. so I know exactly what you're talking about when you talk about your fears of expressing how you feel, but i'm glad to hear you've come out the other side, I know this article of your was written a while ago but nonetheless, recovery, for me at least, took a few years but every day you learn new things about yourself and ways of coping that are permanent so that if the blues, or a stressful situation ever strikes you again (as it does everyone) you will be even better equipped than most people at coping with it in the healthiest way possible.

    I know it sounds strange but with that said- enjoy the process! You never get to spend so much time on yourself and learn so much as when you are recovering from depression. Best of luck to you.

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  2. p.s. annoying things about london pt.2 omfg, i hear you! and when i was depressed sometimes a conversation with the bank would end with me self-harming, they are that bad with customer service in this country. pt.1 no wonder you got depressed, sounds like a nightmare! I sometimes wonder how we can call ourselves a developed country when everything here is so damn inefficient.

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