None of my family were particularly keen on London growing up; busy, noisy and expensive we didn’t really go there much on days out, but that didn’t stop me dreaming about it and the possibilities it might hold for me.
Fast forward a few years and at the age of 23 I decided it was time. I’d been working in London for a year already, and not only was the commute killing me (especially doing the silly hours a junior PR is expected to do), but I knew that I wasn’t going to feel I’d achieved my goal until I was living there, breathing it in. Getting a job at a London agency was part one, finding a place to live, which I could afford was part two.
I’ll admit I was naive, I thought my evenings would be spent drinking cosmopolitans in sexy bars a’la SATC, not cooking prawn curry for my pescatarian flatmate and watching Eastenders with our microwaveable bears.
Don’t get me wrong, in many ways it totally lived up to my dream; meeting fascinating people, having spontaneous wild nights out, making bonds for life with girls that became like sisters, and feeling like a local rather than a wide-eyed tourist. I’d made it, even if it was costing me 85% of my monthly wage to do so.
For two years I lived with my PR girls, experiencing each others highs, lows, PMS and dramas – sometimes I loved it, sometimes I just wanted the flat to myself and to be able to watch Midsummer Murders without being openly mocked.
I left London two years ago, to move back to the shire, rent with my boyfriend and open the next chapter of our relationship. I did it for us really, had I been single I think I’d still be there now, but overall it was for the best that I left.
I did the painful commute for a further year and a half and finally realised that the relationship I left London for, wouldn’t survive if I didn’t leave it entirely. Nobody pressured me into doing it, in fact my boyfriend was incredibly supportive of my career, picking me up from the station bleary eyed, cooking my teas and listening to my tales of woe. He could see I wasn’t happy, but I clung onto that place like a deranged ex-girlfriend who wouldn’t accept it was over.
It took my UC diagnosis last Christmas to finally kick me up the arse, (excusing the pun) and show me it was time to make a move to a quieter place, a quieter role and a quieter life. A huge portion of me was screaming ‘No NO..you’ve worked SO hard to get here’, but I knew for the short-term at least, I needed a London detox.
So I left arguably the biggest and best agency in London, left some of my best friends and my favourite places…to come home. Some days I miss it so much it hurts, and I still feel a sense of failure in myself for not coping better, but then I look at what I have now. My relationship has improved ten-fold, I have time and energy to actually make conversation in the evening, cook dinner and enjoy a bit of Bake Off on the sofa together. Most importantly in December it will be a year since my last flare up, and no doubt this lifestyle change has had a huge impact on that remission.
So, for anyone who dreams of the Big Smoke, the bright lights and the buzz..I can tell you first hand, it really is a special city, and definitely one to be experienced young and carefree. But beware the pitfalls of burning that light too brightly, when you get sick or burnt out, it can suddenly feel like a very lonely place, nomatter how many friends you have.