Boxes, boxes everywhere. I’ve moved a lot in my life. Overseas, across the country, within the same city, within the same continent, you name it, I’ve done it. Yet it’s always a struggle. It’s more of a struggle for me this time than any of those times because my bipolar depression wasn’t in full bloom back then. I’m doing a lot better this month than I have since college, or forever really. When my psychiatrist asked in my last appointment when I last felt like myself, I had to pause and scratch my head a bit. Feeling like myself… huh… Did I ever feel that? Do I feel “normal” now? You learn to forget. How you feel becomes a new normal, then another new normal until you hit rock bottom. You can’t see the forest from the trees, and you can’t compare the gradual changes your brain goes through, as others can. Just like aging over time.
Chicago living has been pleasant, (sans bad experiences that could have happened anywhere else). The people are, as Midwesterners are known, nice. Places are more spacious for a lot cheaper, and people don’t give too much of a hoot about how they look (Not in a fashionable Parisian way, but in a utilitarian, it’s warm-it’s comfortable-and-I’m-going-to-wear-it way). It’s less cut throat. At least compared to the East Coast. The best words I can come up with are that I have grown here, but I can’t say that I’ve enjoyed my life here. There are still painful things that come up, like when someone I dated for a year broke my heart by breaking up with me at 2 am out of the blue, or the time my new boss told me that I was not learning quickly enough (during our first one-on-one), the time someone whom I considered as one of my best friends stopped talking to me during my worst time with my depression, the time I got hospitalized the first time, and the second time, and the time someone who meant a lot to me didn’t believe that my depression was very serious, or that I was trying to get better.
At the same time, there were small surprises here and there that made it all bearable. I found a group of friends that I really clicked with (read: found a book club with) from work who were kind, and saw my potential as a coworker/person. I adopted the most beautiful cat, who is my Emotional Support Animal. I have been in love and out of love, then in love again. I found the missing link to my life- the ultimate question, the truth about myself, “why was I so sad/guilty/depressed/down all the time?” (answer: I have an illness, and had it probably for awhile and it went untreated), complete strangers who wanted me to feel better while I was hospitalized/in treatment, the friends who visited me at the hospital, and most importantly, my parents who supported me through my struggles and stayed by my side.
Life is funny. When I got this job offer based in Chicago out of college two years ago, I had rejected the other ones closer to home, thinking that it was a good idea to move somewhere I’ve never been. Turns out, I didn’t know myself very well, or what I wanted. I wasn’t sure where home was, but I found myself telling my friends at my farewell brunch that “I’m going home.” So I guess, New York is home, then.