I am going to talk about some of my personal experiences living in places which added to my depression. The search for a safe and quiet place to live seems to be a theme among our members lately including Marishka and Pamela. I do think where you live can absolutely color your mood. If you live in a bad area of town where you feel unsafe or if you live where it is very noisy or have bad neighbors…these are all elements which could contribute to feelings of both stress and depression.
Sometimes moving can greatly improve your mood. I know because I have experienced this.
I don’t know where to begin because I have lived in so many depressing places.
Have you ever lived in a place which was initially great but then turned into the house or apartment from hell?
When my husband and I were first starting out we found a small row house in the city perched on top of a very steep hill. I am not sure I can adequately describe this hill as it wasn’t just one hill but a series of very narrow and steep vertical slopes. It was like living on a mountain. The view was great and we could see the skyline and the city. The rent was super cheap. And the community had a lot of “culture” as in neighborhood restaurants, festivals, and arts. It was considered bohemian chic. Our neighborhood seemed to be mostly older people and families. It was mostly blue collar workers…maybe lower middle class.
Living there was great when all we did was work and go to school. We didn’t spend much time at home and we were constantly out and about.
But things changed drastically when I became pregnant once and then again. When my second son was born I decided to quit my job to stay at home with my two boys. Kids change the equation quite a bit as to what constitutes a good place to live.
The festivals where crowds would swarm the streets no longer seemed festive but frightening. The neighborhood speakeasy no longer seemed quaint but ominous. And some of the neighbors had children who had grown to be teen-agers. And some of these teens were not the cute little kids I remembered but delinquents.
Staying home made me realize that we had closed our eyes to what the neighborhood was growing into. I witnessed someone selling drugs right outside my home. The playground across the street was littered with beercans and even needles. I heard all the cars go by with their boomboxes which woke my boys. A neighbor on our street was murdered and found in his truck. Another neighbor was robbed. A house down the street was burned down.
You have to understand that I have lived in the inner city as a child. I grew up to know fear. So I sure didn’t want my kids to experience this as well. The mama bear instinct in me came out. I tried to take control of the situation by taking action. I started a neighborhood watch group. I wrote letters to my city councilman. I got a sign put up in the playground that people couldn’t hang out there at night. I got the police involved in coming to our neighborhood more often. I was angry that I didn’t feel safe in my own home. We had one of bars for the door. We didn’t have a dog but I put up a beware of dog sign. I felt somewhat more empowered by these actions but they were not enough.
The situation made me feel depressed but more so…paranoid. I found myself peeking out of the windows to see who was walking up the street and fearful that someone would break in. It was a horrible feeling. I felt trapped. I felt like a prisoner in my own home. It wasn’t like I could just walk around the neighborhood even to put the babies in the stroller. Where we lived was literally making me crazy. I couldn’t sleep well. I was stressed. I was loving my time with my boys but I couldn’t be happy knowing that we were living in such a neighborhood.
This story has a happy ending. It took many months but we made it our mission to move. We did not have a lot of money but we did find another place in a wonderful neighborhood. Oh the freedom It was also quiet. And safe. I could stroll my babies about and go to stores and get out into the sunshine. It made a huge difference for my mood.
The moral of my story is that if you are living in a place which is contributing to your stress and depression, it may be time to re-think this situation. Moving in and of itself is stressful. And too, every place has its disadvantages. For example the new place we moved to had bad heating and it was a little cold in the winter but I would rather put on a sweater than deal with a dangerous neighborhood. Know what your priorities are in what is most important about a new home or apartment. Safety tops my list.
This past spring I took my eldest son with me to my hometown and we got to see this house where we had lived when he was a baby. It was very emotional for me and for him too. I was so grateful we were able to move and that I am able to give him more opportunities than I had as a child. I suppose this is what every parent wants.
I would love to hear your stories now. Have you ever lived in a place which made you feel stressed or depressed? Did moving help? Tell us all about it. We are listening!