“You’ll realize it soon enough, but New York comes with an expiration date.” – Ross
Ross was one of my favorite co-workers at MetLife. He was funny and sarcastic. He was incredibly smart and talented. But most of all, he was caring and unapologetically honest. During our first happy hour outing, Ross and our boss, Eugene, tried to caution me about life in the city. But me, a newbie to NYC, didn’t take heed to any of the warnings. I wanted NYC living. I fought for NYC living. I now had NYC living and there wasn’t a damn thing either one of these men could say to take it away from me. I was googley eyed over New York and determined to make this city of fuckery my home. And for a while I did, but it took a couple of roommates, a break-in, a mouse infestation, and a whole lot of therapy to make it happen.
In April 2012, I officially became an NYC resident and the initial transition wasn’t too bad. I met my first roommate on Twitter, we quickly secured a newly renovated apartment in a shitty building on St Nicholas Ave, and I managed to find a new well-paying gig within days of moving. But shit would get difficult a few months after that, and that’s when I would learn firsthand that New York doesn’t give a fuck if you’re ready for her or not.
It was about 2 months into living in the city when I had one of my first major anxiety attacks. And about 4 months in when I was followed home and harassed outside of my apartment for 45 minutes. Roughly 2 months after that, my God-send of a roommate relocated to Atlanta and was replaced by the devil’s descendant herself. The following 4 months after that would be spent battling said roommate for rent money and utilities. She’d eventually move out, but not before robbing me of my valuables.
Over the next 5 years, NYC would become my frenemy. She’d fire me up, inspire me to be better, and teach me how to hustle. I mean that’s what she’s supposed to do, right? That’s her superpower. But her building me up usually came right after she had out of the blue kicked me down. Don’t get me wrong, living in New York did me so much good, and I will forever be grateful. But living in New York was always struggle after struggle, something I very rarely hear other transports of the city talk about. And it was more than just the unfortunate events that made shit difficult. It was the anxiety and depression that accompanied them.
By 2015, year 3, anxiety and depression knew me well. They knew me so well, that after being diagnosed with clinical depression by not one, but two therapists, I opted for a prescription of antidepressants rather than to continue fighting it out in the dark. You see, I had developed extreme anxiety around being in crowded areas, which basically made leaving my house every morning an exhausting production. And then there was the depression which could’ve stemmed from the “chemical imbalance” I had read about so much about after being diagnosed. Or the fact that my apartment got no sunlight whatsoever. Or the mouse infestation my supervisor was never quite able to fix. Or maybe it was the two years of heartbreak and mental-warfare with my ex. Either way, I was sad. Sad as fuck and always in a state of panic.
When mid-2016 came around, I knew it would be my last full year in NYC. With every trip I made, I began to realize that I felt sane as long as I wasn’t in the city. And once that realization settled in, I felt relieved yet also extremely embarrassed. Relieved because this emotional rollercoaster could be tamed, and not by means of antidepressants. Embarrassed because I wanted this city living so badly, but my mental-health absolutely couldn’t handle it anymore.
And so I moved. And no, not for my relationship.
I moved because I sucked at living in New York City. I moved because I was afraid of what another winter in New York would do to me. I moved because I wanted to drive rather than wait for the D train. I moved because I was afraid that I’d get used to this darkness, and would only experience calm if it was prescribed to me. I moved because I wanted to practice what I preached about self-care and self-love. I moved because as Bene simply put it, “I was tired of surviving. I was ready to live.”
I moved out of NYC for my mental health. I guess Ross was right after all.14