Should I stay or should I go?
January 18, 2017 3:50 AM   Subscribe

I am at a crossroad in my life, and don't know what to do. Ive been thinking about moving, but depression has been making me second guess myself. Details inside.

I'm a woman in my late twenties, and I live in New York. I have traveled a good deal before, but have never actually lived anywhere else, bough I've always wanted to. I'm at a point I'm my life where, due to (really) bad outside circumstances, I have found myself both jobless and living with my parents. I could easily get a job in my service industry field if I applied in person, but I'm really depressed, and it's kicking my ass. I have a terrible resume, and I know I'm much more appealing in person, but I don't have the mindset to feel comfortable selling myself because I know my sadness will show through. What I've been doing in the meantime is getting a exercise field trainer certification in a niche specialty. I can easily finish that by February, or I can join a longer, more expensive sub speciality certification in the same exercise modality, which would mean working with clients one on one, more undesteanding of the field, and possibly better jobs at the end of it. It would also keep me here until September. Having said that, I have always wanted to live on the west coast (specifically San Francisco). I have a friend who also can move any time she wants, and we're thinking of moving together, but it's entirely up in the air. I'm not sure what to do here. This is also complicated by the fact that on a trip to San Francisco I took just last year, the friend that I was staying with sexually assaulted me. I was also raped my first week of college (now a decade ago), and have had terrible depression and trust issues since. I have a therapist, but I don't think she has helped me process the feelings that the trip last year reawakened in me. I was using my job to block out my depression, but since I'm not working any more all of the thoughts that I had banashed have returned. I'd really like to help myself take control and not be afraid of being in control of my life anymore. I'm just not sure how to accomplish this. Should I take a trip to clear my head? Should I move and start anew? Should I stay and complete a sub specialty program and move in the fall? Are there other options I'm not considering? I'd really like to move past this feeling of being stuck, and I'm miserable right now. I'm just not sure what the best plan of attack would be. Thanks in advance. Oh, and throwaway email here:
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (8 answers total)
Could you finish your exercise field trainer certification and then do some kind of *temporary* gap experience somewhere else in the country to get some fresh air and put out some tendrils on moving somewhere else? For example, Americorps or wwoofing or national park service jobs/volunteering? That way you can experience another place and build connections there without putting all your eggs in one basket. If it works out you can use that leverage to stay there. If it doesn't you can go back home or somewhere else.
posted by sacchan at 4:54 AM on January 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

Get a therapist that specializes in trauma.

No, probably don't move to the most expensive city in the US where you had a really terrible experience while you are currently depressed. YMMV. Maybe process this idea with that new therapist?
posted by jbenben at 5:26 AM on January 18, 2017 [5 favorites]

Moving to a brand-new city is really hard, even when your mental health is pretty stable. I've moved a lot as an adult, and while the first six months are particularly hard, in my experience it basically stays hard for at least a year (longer if there are language or culture differences).

And the thing is: things only get better after a year in a new city if you've spent that time hustling your butt off and putting a lot of energy into meeting new people and finding a job and learning your way around. If you go to a new city and are depressed and you spend that year mostly holed up in your new apartment, feeling too sad and tired to go out and do a lot of things, then at the end of the year, your new city isn't going to just magically start feeling like home. You'll probably just feel lonely and isolated and more depressed.

Having goals is a good thing and it's quite possible that a city on the West Coast might suit you better than New York, but I would try and get my mental health a bit more sorted out before moving if I were you.
posted by colfax at 6:07 AM on January 18, 2017 [5 favorites]

Look, I say this a person who completely picked up her life and moved to a new city as a way to run away from her problems — if your problems are *internal*, no amount of moving will help you run away from them. My problems were mainly external (family). But your issues: depression, assault, probably PTSD, those are going to stay with you no matter where you are, until you get some help.

Stay where you are but find a new therapist. Good luck.
posted by Brittanie at 6:56 AM on January 18, 2017 [4 favorites]

I think that right now, you should move to a new therapist, not a new city
posted by rtha at 8:29 AM on January 18, 2017

I would not move to SF in your mental place. It is not an easy place to live and it already comes with baggage. I agree you need to shake it up in therapy. If I were you I would dig in to why you are avoiding the thing that you feel would be easy, but are willing to climb tall, rickety towers of difficulty (moving to SF without a plan, changing careers) instead. That sounds like classic twisted thinking and self sabotage to me.

A change of scenery could do you good. I just don't think you should pack up and move and definitely not to a city that has sooooo much baggage. Do you think you'd have the juice to apply in person for service jobs in a new town? Why not see if you can visit a friend in a new city (not SF!) and try applying in person to get some practice and get back into the groove?

What everybody else is saying. You need a different therapist who can get you better help.
posted by pazazygeek at 8:44 AM on January 18, 2017

You have three problems:

1) You have challenging mental health
2) You need a job/career improvement
3) You want some change in your life

I don't think moving to San Francisco-- the only city more expensive and less friendly to newcomers than New York-- is going to solve these problems. You need to deal with 1) and 2) before you can deal with 3). Dealing with 1) and 2) might eliminate 3) or it might not.

My suggestion is:

1) Prioritize your mental health. Try different therapists, different therapy modalities, Open Path Therapy Collective, other local sliding scale therapy options. Callen-Lorde at 356 W. 18th St can refer you even if you're not LGBTQetc.
2) Work on the sub-specialty that makes you more employable. "I spent some time studying and now I'm a new grad ready to get down to work" is a GREAT way to frame a less-than-awesome resume. Your resume will be in better shape, too.
3) Look for a job first, THEN move. If you have a job to move for, you aren't desperate for both an apartment AND money. Also, in the SF rental market you will not find a place to live if you are unemployed (unless your parents will pay your rent in advance for a year.) Also, I find that having a job already makes job searching much easier (having a job is proof that you can keep a job, which employers like to see.)

Two of your three problems are solvable without spending the crapton of money it costs to move across the country. Additionally, if you have traumatic associations with SF, if you're moving there without dealing with some of the previous trauma and underlying mental issues, you're setting yourself up for failure.

First stabilize yourself. Set yourself up for success. Moving is destabilizing, so don't do it until you have to.
posted by blnkfrnk at 11:27 AM on January 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

Wherever you go, there you are.

Meaning that whether you move or don't move, you will still have yourself and your trauma to cope with. Think carefully and honestly about what exactly you're hoping to escape by moving.
posted by a strong female character at 8:56 PM on January 19, 2017

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