It’s been almost 12 months since we left London for suburban life in Letchworth Garden City. Despite the small downsides (looking at you, Govia Thameslink Railway!) I haven’t looked back for a second. In fact, it’s arguably up there with one of the best things I’ve ever done – particularly for my mental health, which has come on in leaps and bounds since we moved. So when The Independent were looking for someone to write about the latest stats on thousands of people moving out of the capital each year, I had plenty to say on the subject!
I’ve also been doing a lot of writing for Patient.info recently – including, in August, a feature on the psychology of sex and love addiction, and one exploring the misconceptions and realities of living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
London is over. Like thousands of young people, I’m so glad I left – for The Independent’s Indy Voices:
When I moved to London at 22, fresh out of university, it felt like the most exciting place in the world to live. The hustle and bustle, the nightlife, the cultural scene and, as a trainee journalist, the job opportunities. Fast forward five years and, 10 months ago, I was moving out for a new life in the Hertfordshire suburbs.
By 2017, I felt alienated by the soulless capitalism of life in the city. My anxiety was at its peak, and the crush of the tube made me claustrophobic.
Scarred by a year of rush hours on the central line, I found myself only applying for jobs where I could travel slightly later, and on quieter lines, before deciding that freelancing from home was actually the way forward.
As more and more friends left their high-pressure London jobs for a calmer and more affordable work-life balance elsewhere – or, like me, to go become self-employed – it became apparent that the London was no longer the centre of the employment universe. Not only were there job opportunities elsewhere, but the working cultures and cost of living were far less intense.
While friends in London would repeatedly blow me off to work late, those outside the capital seemed to have exactly the kind of work-life balance that had driven me into self-employment in the first place. Unemployment in the capital might be down, but it’s only because we’re choosing to leave for greener pastures at a rate of 100,000 a year. New roles are sitting empty because there are fewer and fewer people to fill them. The crisis in housing affordability is making the capital less attractive to those in their late-twenties and thirties, who could previously be found knuckling down to city life at key points in their careers. For millennials, however, our expectations are changing.
What it’s like to be a recovering sex addict – for Patient:
As of July, compulsive sexual behaviour is now officially recognised as a medical condition by the World Health Organization (WHO). More commonly generalised as ‘sex addiction’, the disorder is a complex one, difficult to define and to diagnose. While the idea of being addicted to sex is both mocked and sensationalised in media and popular culture, the condition can in fact be debilitating for sufferers – and the shame and stigma only make matters worse.
“Men always used to just be a distraction,” says recovering sex and love addict Alice*, 32. “I used sex, love and romance to medicate uncomfortable feelings like guilt, stress, or fear – and that constant, obsessive search for male comfort took over my life. If I didn’t have a sexual partner, I felt like I was staring into a black abyss.“
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects roughly one in ten people but, like many mental health issues, is widely misunderstood and surrounded by misconceptions. PTSD UK describes the condition as “essentially a memory filing error caused by a traumatic event”.
It’s a surprisingly common way for the mind to respond to situations of intense panic and fear, but it can have a debilitating impact on the lives of those affected. We spoke to people living with the condition about the things they wish others understood about PTSD.
IF YOU NEED SUPPORT
Please note that I am NOT a psychologist or healthcare professional. Check out my resources page for details of organisations who might be able to help.
However, if you would like to get in touch about your own experiences, or a story that you’re keen to tell, please feel free to drop me an email.