Can The City You Live In Impact Your Mental Health?

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The short answer (In my opinion) is yes. And in multiple ways. Let me explain:

 

For starters, if you’re living in a city where you don’t fit in, then right off the bat, you will have problems.  For example, I’m from Ohio.

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I am gay, very liberal, loves travel, and have always wanted to do something in the arts and in media, and have always wanted to somehow impact the world in a big way.

Ohio is a lot of blue collar people who don’t have passports (and who rarely even leave the state), they’re mostly republicans who fear the outside world, and life consists of going to work to make money to start a family and go to church to pray to God to let you go to heaven because you’ve spent your entire life only half-lived, because you’ve been suck in the social norms that your too afraid to ever step away from.

Ohio also has a very bad crime problem, and is part of the opiod epidemic, along with having a bad meth problem as well, but that’s a whole other story… 

ANYWAYS, the point is, someone like me just doesn’t fit in there. It just wasn’t ever going to work. My life in Ohio would always have been un-lived because there isn’t anything there for me.

And the same can be true for the other side of the spectrum as well.  If you’re a Protestant who thinks homosexuality is a sin, and loves Trump and wants him to build the wall, and you genuinely fear and hate people of a different skin color from you…  you’re probably going to have a horrible miserable life in cities line New York, LA, or San Fransisco.

And as much as I’m terrified by the idea of some Protestant with so much hate and fear inside them, part of the trick is just finding where they fit.  Just like I needed to find where I fit.

 

But there’s also more factors:  

For example, Los Angeles, is car-centered city.  When you walk out to a road, it looks like this:

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You don’t see many people out walking the streets. For America’s second largest city, you sometimes wonder if you’re in a suburb somewhere.

And don’t get me wrong. There are some very beautiful, fun, and lively parts of LA. Sunset Strip, WeHo, Santa Monica, Venice.  You’ll find busy areas.

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But if you ever live there, you’ll soon realize that this is a very small percentage of LA. Most of LA, on the street level, is a barren wasteland.

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And I used to find that emptiness absolutely crushing. I used to walk around, trying to shake off my depressive episodes by being in public, hoping to gain some energy from the outside world.  And I’d wander around and be like… Holy crap, do people actually live in this city?  So, if you’re like me and find yourself lonely a lot… find yourself in desperate need of some good company… try major cities like New York, Chicago, or even San Fransisco, where the streets will be full of pedestrians, mass transit is packed, and everything seems more alive.

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But perhaps you’re not like me. Maybe you’re not a guy in his 20’s. Maybe you’re a middle-aged woman who wants a garden. Or you’re parents who don’t want to raise their children in Manhattan (which, does have it’s problems for kids… the other day I watched a couple of 15 yr olds buy drugs…. it was insanely depressing.)

Then a big hustling city might cause you stress. Whereas it’s great for me, it might make you miserable. Then you gotta go and find where you belong!

 

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Maybe you need a place like Burlington, VT? A good school system, some large corporations, but also the quaint, small, safety of a little New England City?  We all need different things.  And we all need to be where we feel comfortable and happy. Because that is the first step to good mental health. 

 

Speaking of good mental health… perhaps you’re like me and you need sunshine.  Avoid Places like Chicago and Boston, which sit at the easterly end of their time zones, and the sun sets early. Word of advice from someone who has lived in both of these cities. In the winter, it will be completely dark before you’re out of work. You will spend a few months in eternal darkness.

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But time zones are the only thing to worry about. Locations like Portland and Seattle are covered by clouds most of the year. And how far North you are will also have a huge impact on sunshine….So, you can rule out Alaska.

 

Obviously, there are huge factors that make a lot of this not possible. For example, if you’re a surgeon, you probably couldn’t go live in Manning, North Dakota. No matter how desperately you want to live in a rural village, close to the great outdoors… you just won’t find employment there.

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Or if you have kids who are in school. Or if you have sick parents that need caring for. Or allergies, or skin conditions, and the list goes on and on.

 

Being able to move is a luxury that I have because I’m young, and have no spouse, or children. I understand that. And I understand that not everyone can go and try and find where they fit. But still, where you live has a huge impact on your mental health. So, if you’re in a position where it’s possible (and Im not just talking about fear… don’t ever let fear be the thing keeping you stuck where you are.)  A dying parent, sure. Then you have a srepbsobilty to someone and are needed. And you’re stuck. sadly.

But don’t hide behind excuses either.  Yes, moving away may put you further from your family, and from what’s familiar. But don’t ever let fearing the unknown keep you somewhere. Don’t hide behind the excuses of “Oh but what if one day my parents happen to get sick…” or “How will my friend group go on without me…” That’s just you hiding behind excuses because you’re afraid. If you’re truly unhappy somewhere, and you have the ability to take the leap… then honey, you gotta’ go full-blown Thelma and Louise and just gun it!

 

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~ The Dark Horse

Was this proofread?  I’ll say this. It wasn’t not proofread. But it also wasn’t “proofread” per-se. Does that make any sense?

 

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7 thoughts on “Can The City You Live In Impact Your Mental Health?

  1. With you 100%. Where you live is important. I’m living proof of this. Living in the city is not for me but finding a balance of practicality and wants is so difficult!

    Here it is necessary to come to the city to study and unfortunately we all tend to stay because unless you are a doctor, nurse, teacher, police officer or similar finding stable work is hard out of the metro area.

    Then there is health. I need to see my Rheumatologist to manage autoimmune arthritis and I see a psychiatrist. The availability of either is almost non existent even an hour away from Perth (the capital city in Western Australia). So yep… Stuck describes it.

    But the city has been soul destroying for me. It took a long time to realise why I felt so lost and out of place. I had a loving family and work and friends and was getting help for my depression and arthritis. But I felt empty until the day hubby agreed to find a school within an hour of the city. We found a school we loved and then our block. 5 acres of bushland.

    The empty feeling leaves me as I drive there. I work in my massive garden. Learnt to strain fences and how to build dry stacked retaining walls. Plant trees and experiment with keeping them safe from the bloody kangaroos.

    The town has a sense of community the city lacks entirely and I didn’t realise how much I missed knowing my neighbours.

    In a few weeks our house is done and we finally get to move HOME.

    Everyone is different… I need connection to the land, quiet slower pace of life and close community. Others need the anonymity and fast pace the city allows.

    You are right. Neither is better it is simply a matter of working out what feels right for you.

    1. Im also very interested in you saying your house will be done and you can be “home”. Because the sense of home is also really important for good mental health as well. I remember my year in Melbourne, immediately after I moved in, the owners decided to sell the place. So, for almost the entire year I was there, every Sunday we had to leave the apartment so they could show it to potential buyers. I remember always feeling like I never had a home there because I never knew if I’d wind up homeless at any point. it was so terrible

  2. Arrgh how awful! Am I wrong remembering that you have experienced homelessness before? That must have been so triggering for you!

    We sold our house and have been renting while we build and it has reminded me how unstable it can be renting. A sense of home IS so important I agree with you. Somewhere safe.

    1. Well, I was never “homeless”. But when I was in undergrad in LA, I dropped out of school and lost my on-campus housing. The only way I avoided homelessness was because I started having sex for money….

      so…

      not the proudest moments of my life that’s for sure.

      1. It may not be a time you are proud of but I respect you did what you had to to survive.

        I think pride goes out the window when it is a matter of survival. And there is nothing wrong with that either.

      2. Yeah, it’s such a weird period to look back on because it was like, I dropped out of school because mentally, I was falling apart and couldn’t hold myself together. But then it’s like… how was I not able to handle the cushy insular University system….but somehow then managed to survive hustling????? When I look back on those years, all my memories are dark. It’s like the sun was never shining. It’s like it was always night. And Im so glad Im not in that mindset anymore. Im glad that I’ve become more stable, and am actually making something of my life now

      3. I find it is easier to cope when the expectations you place on yourself are lower.

        Uni was a difficult place for me also. I felt out of place and inferior.

        It was easier to accept the confines of an abusive relationship and being controlled than to accept I had earned my place at uni and had the same right as others to succeed.

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