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If you haven’t heard the news, I moved across the country a month ago.

I left Ohio because of my mental health.

I’m leaving my job in less than a month for my mental health.

Today is World Mental Health Day, so I wanted to share a little bit of my story this last year and half or so because it’s been that long since I’ve written anything.

By the end of 2019, I knew I wasn’t happy living in Ohio. I was far from family, more of my single friends living in Ohio were moving away, and work was getting harder and harder. I was exhausted—physically, mentally, and emotionally. My anxiety and depression reared its ugly head and I decided to do something about it, I went to therapy. I wrote about that here.

2020 was unlike any year, I think any of us have ever experienced. The pandemic was hard to navigate. Working at a small healthcare college was already difficult, then bring in the responsibility of effectively communicating all the consistent changes with how we were navigating the virtual classroom, COVID testing and all that comes with the college experience. Working from home was a relief though and I sort of found a routine that worked for me while I’m battling my anxiety and depression. Though I’m an introvert, the isolation got to me.

The isolation was also felt by being one of few people of color in my predominantly white work environment. At one point I was told, “We’re going to look to you to lead out in conversations around here.” To which I replied, “I get it, but do you know how unfair that is?” My proximity to whiteness was all up in my face that summer and I had to take some time for myself to address all of that, which maybe one day I’ll share. As a biracial woman, there’s a lot you come to terms with, and the unlearning continues to happen. But what was clear was very few people around me got it, so my circle got smaller.

By the fall of 2020, I had lost community, friendships, normalcy, and routine, but with those losses, I gained understanding, clarity, new friends, a different type of community, and I went back to therapy, this time with a new therapist.

After a few sessions with my therapist, she told me flat out that 1) I needed to move out of state and 2) all the things I was frustrated with were maybe things I needed to let go of.

If I thought 2021 was going to bring any relief, the joke was on me. Work didn’t let up—would you believe it if I told you my workload increased? I was still working from home, but I was so stressed I could barely take care of myself in a healthy way. Everything was affected because I was burnt out by work and didn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel.

I knew deep down I needed to make a big move, but I needed to be smart about it. I started job searching and networking trying to find something else that would move me out of Ohio. If you’ve ever job searched before you know it’s a full-time gig and I had ZERO energy to do it because I was running on fumes.

Then in June, my landlord informed me she was selling the house I was renting from her, and it set into motion some major decisions, which is also another story for another time. Though her selling the house was the catalyst, it was the necessary shove or fire lit that I needed to make the decision to leave.

Within the month of receiving that news, I decided to leave Ohio without a job, without a new opportunity—I just packed my stuff in a POD and moved across the country to my parents’ house. I decided to continue working at my job for 60 days to wrap up a few projects since the other person in my department also moved out of state and left for her mental health. Before I left, I met with administrators, coworkers and friends and told them I had decided to move for my mental health. They all said they understood, wished me well, and encouraged me that I needed to do whatever was best for me.

And I did.

I’ve been gone from Ohio for 30 days as of today and it’s been the best decision I could’ve made. I wish I had made it sooner. I can look back and have gratitude for the person I became because I lived there. It taught me a lot about community, intentions, environment, and values. There are also good people that live there, but I figured out over the five years of living there, that at this point in my life, it wasn’t it for me.

I still have bad days, like the other day, when I was in such bad shape, I took the afternoon off, and my mom took me to the botanical gardens. I realized later I was having an anxiety attack and walking away from work that afternoon was me putting my mental health first. I’m beginning therapy again and I’m taking my weeks day-by-day because I know there’s still work to be done and there’s a lot of healing that needs to happen.

I’ve been in some dark places over the last few years. I’ve also walked through hard times with close friends. Out of all these experiences, especially the most difficult ones that come out of nowhere, I have to say so loudly that you matter. Your experiences matter. You deserve to stay. You are needed. Your life matters. You can get through this. There is help that’s available to you. Tell someone you’re not okay.

You are not alone.

It’s okay, not to be okay.

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