Starting Over: Tips for Moving to a New State With a Mental Illness

Moving out of state is a daunting task for anyone, but few can argue it’s harder on those of us with mental illness. In my case, as a man diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a panic and anxiety disorder and depression, this was especially hard for me.

Here is how I coped and how I found a good doctor after the biggest leap of my life (so far).

1. Take time to prepare for the big day.

This one really helped me. I’m a bit of a pack rat, bordering on hoarding. I had nearly a year to carefully pack my things and throw away anything I didn’t need or want to bring. Not feeling rushed is crucial.

2. Don’t forget your meds.

Talk to your doctor. You’ll need a referral, after all. You’ll also need enough refills, just in case. In my case, it took six months to get in to see anyone. I know that sounds scary. Believe me, I was terrified. But if I can make it, odds are you can too.

3. Make sure your support system is there.

In my case, my wife’s family all lived in Mississippi. I’m already very close to them and they all know about my situation and accept me. This is what helped me cope with #2.

4. Make the most of your new world.

It sounds corny, but it really is a new world. In my case, the town I’d lived in for my entire life only had ghosts around the edges. Everything reminded me of the trauma that led to my PTSD. In this new town in a new state, I could recreate my life in a way. There are still shadows here, but fewer ghosts.

5. Be patient with yourself.

This is easier said than done. I still haven’t cut myself a break. It’s only been a year since my big move and I still beat myself up for not getting “out there” more. I must remind myself that it takes time.

6. Find some familiarity in the unfamiliar.

In my case, I had music. I have a very extensive collection of albums, most of which I know by heart. Listening to my music helped in the normalization process. I found that having the same soundtrack for a different background really helped me a lot.

7. Do your research.

It helped me to find out as much as I could about the town I was moving to. I studied up on the history, I looked up what was located where. I had fun with it. I’m a dark guy, so I studied up on the local ghost stories. Google is your friend in this regard.

It takes time, but if you follow these steps, you’ll find the rewards far outweigh the dread associated with that awful word” “moving.” A new place brings with it new vistas. Feel free and explore.

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Getty Images photo via Philip Lee Harvey

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