I Had A Nervous Breakdown, Moved Back Home And It Was Awesome

by Zara Barrie

In mid-December 2011, I decided to drop my entire life in bustling New York City and move thousands of miles away to the sophisticated city of London.

When I decided to go, I was madly in love with New York. I loved Manhattan and its manic energy with every fiber of my 24-year-old being.

So why did I decide to leave it all behind? I'm not sure. I do have this psychological problem in which as soon as I'm deliriously happy and content in a city, I make a rash move to get the f*ck out of there.

Maybe I'm afraid of getting too comfortable, so I have to self-sabotage and overcomplicate my life? All I know is I was suddenly fueled with this strange yet irrepressible desire to leave my beloved city.

Luckily for me, I could. Due to a high-paying, last-minute gig, I actually had money in the bank for once. I was fresh out of a breakup, so no one was tethering me to anything. And my mother's English, so I even have a British passport.

F*ck it, chuck it. Why not just go?

So I packed up my collection of faux fur coats and thigh-high boots and off I went. And the moment I landed at Gatwick Airport, everything seemed to fall beautifully into place. I scored a charming little studio apartment on Portobello Road in Notting Hill (we've all seen the bloody movie, right?). I got a job working as a makeup artist at a high-end department store. It all seemed too perfect, too cinematic to even be real.

Happy in Notting Hill, on the famous Portobello Road.

A tiny little piece of me also knew I was fulfilling my mother's dream for me by moving to London. Her career as a top fashion and beauty model had launched in London, and I knew she wanted to see me thrive in her homeland. And I'm one of those girls who is forever desperately seeking "Mummy's approval," so I wanted to earn her validation.

Cut to a month later, and I'm all alone in a dark little pub across the street from my apartment drinking myself into sheer oblivion.

I was homesick for New York. I missed the impulsive recklessness of my friends, the bitchy remarks from the strangers on the subway, the electric diversity.

I wasn't falling in love with London. I felt out of place. Like I was "too much" for the city. Too loud. Too extreme in my fashion choices. Too opinionated. Too much of a night owl for a town that shut down at 10 pm.

So I cultivated a dark habit. I would go to the pub and drink away the gaping holes of homesickness. I started to sleep around with people who weren't worthy of my time, let alone my body. I disconnected, so I wouldn't have to feel present at my soul-sucking job.

Me, mid-blackout at the pub. Not my chicest moment.

I kept all of this a secret. My family and friends back home were counting on me to rise to the occasion and WIN. To fulfill their dreams of being an American girl living a glam life in London.

In truth, there was nothing glam about my dismal life of blacking out, having anxiety attacks and waking up next to strangers I hated.

I'm good at pretending everything is fine. I've mastered the EVERYTHING IS FINE art. I might as well have an honorary doctorate in BEING OK, GUYS.

But a meltdown wants what a meltdown wants, right? One morning, as I took my typical walk to work, I burst into an inexplicable bout of tears.

F*ck. I was a mess. Not a fun, creative mess, but a sad mess. I had bullet holes in my heart and was filling the empty spaces with a slew of substances and toxic people. All I wanted to do was go home.

But deep down, I knew there was no way in hell that I could go home. That would mean I failed, right? People who leave big cities and move back in with their parents are losers. It means they couldn't hack it.

So I put on my British stiff upper lip and did what I'm so good at — acted like EVERYTHING WAS FINE. LIKE TOTALLY FINE. LIKE #BLESSED FINE.

Finally, it was Christmas time, and I could go home for a little vacation. The second the plane ascended into the slate gray British skies, I knew I wasn't going to go back to England.

So I did it. I went home. I had my breakdown. And it was actually the best f*cking thing I've ever done in my life. Here's why:

It gave me TIME to figure out what I want.

When I took some time in the soft comforts of home without the pressure of having to work 80 hours a week just to afford rent in London, I had time to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life. I realized I didn't want to be a makeup artist. In fact, I hated doing makeup professionally and only liked doing it for fun with my friends.

Most importantly, I realized I missed acting, art and writing. I delved back into all three, and little by little, I felt inspired again.

I got MUM cuddles, and it helped me feel LOVED again.

I know we are all smart, strong, self-reliant and fiercely independent women here, but it's totally OK to need validation and affection sometimes. It's part of the human experience.

I was feeling insecure. I had lost my confidence and needed maternal nurturing to remind me I was OK AND NOT A FAILURE (AND PRETTY, TOO). I needed the people who have known me my whole life to remind me of where I came from and that I do in fact (shocker) have a valuable place in the world.

My fabulous mum helping me feel fierce again.

I had a safe place to confront my issues (and there were a sh*t ton, girl).

I realized my experience in London was so scary and traumatic not because I didn't LIKE London, but because I had spent years and years suppressing traumatic events in my life.

It was when I was alone with no friends in a new place that the memories began to surface.

There was no way I could have confronted the scary things from the past while I was in a foreign country with no support system.

Coming home was the perfect place for me to do that. I was in a safe environment, and you need to feel safe in order to truly open up to a therapist.

Because it got me here.

It got me here, to New York City, making a living off my two greatest passions: writing and acting. I'm back in the town that inspires me, and I'm strong enough to take risks without falling apart.

If I hadn't taken that time to move back home and re-center, there is no way I would be writing this article to all of you kittens on this sunny-yet-freezing Wednesday morning. I would have fallen apart. I have a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that I might not have even survived.

So if you need to take some time to regroup at home, that's more than OK. It doesn't make you a loser. It doesn't mean you're never going to go back to the big, bad city. It doesn't mean you've given up on your dreams.

In fact, it means the very opposite. It means you're a f*cking smart girl boss who knows what she needs. So if you're melting down, book that ticket home, take six months and HEAL. And f*ck what anyone else thinks.

Because at the end of the day, it's your life, and you're steering the f*cking ship. Don't let the haters steer it for you.

More from Zara:

Penetration Is Not Dedication: Girls, Stop Mistaking Sex For Affection

61 Things I Need To Cross Off My Bucket List Before I Turn 30

Being Your Own Best Friend Is The Perfect Remedy For Your Loneliness